PMC deals crippling blow to folk games in its sports policy

May 14, 2013, 00:48 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

MNS corporator criticises civic body for keeping out traditional events like langdi � a popular school-level sport, where you try to catch a bunch of players while hopping on one leg � and refusing to organise mayor's trophy contests for them.

IPL seasons will come and go, but it’s no secret that India is not a sporting nation. And it’s even more explicit that many traditional games here do not have a leg to stand on. Which is why Pune Municipal Corporation’s decision to not include events like ‘langdi’ in its first-ever sports policy has failed to go down well with many citizens and politicians alike.

Hop to it! Girls from Modern High School playing langdi at their playground during sports hour

In a recently held meeting, the civic body’s sports committee refused to incorporate langdi – a popular school-level sport, where you try to catch a bunch of players while hopping on one leg – in its list of disciplines, and also declined to organise a mayor’ trophy competition for the same.

‘It’s decided’
Justifying the exclusion of langdi, PMC sports committee chairperson Anil Tingre said, “If today we include langdi, tomorrow another proposal may come for viti dandu (tip-cat).” 

The argument over langdi started after MNS corporator Asmita Shinde sent a proposal to include the game in the sports policy and also arrange a mayor’s trophy contest for it.

Leap of faith! Corporator Asmita Shinde (inset) says PMC should do all it can to promote langdi

“Even though this game is not internationally recognised, it is very popular among school children. Langdi is a sport, which was born on Indian soil. The sports committee has to include it to endorse local events,” Shinde said.

On the other hand, the sports committee says it is trimming down the number of mayor trophy meets held in a year. “Previously around 30-35 such events were held annually. But now we have decided to arrange only 12 of them per year. According to the list of approved games, every year 12 new sports will be selected for mayor’s trophy,” maintained Tingare.

‘Won’t budge’
However, Shinde is firm on her stand to hold a mayor’s trophy competition for langdi. “If after much opposition PMC could invite Pakistani athletes for a recent wrestling competition in the city, why it can not organise a competition of langdi to promote the sport and give a boost to schoolkids?” asked Shinde.

Specifying the importance and national-international station of the game, Shobha Nikam, chairperson of Pune District Langdi Association, said, “Langdi is the foundation of many games like kho-kho, volleyball and gymnastics. It really helps preteens build stamina.”

Nikam who just last year organised a national-level langdi competition in the city, said, “Langdi’s popularity is not restricted to Maharashtra, as it is played 20 Indian states. The game has also found patrons in Malaysia and Bhutan.”

Asked whether langdi is recognised by Maharashtra Olympic Association (MOA), she added, “Our efforts are on and I am sure like dodgeball, langdi will also soon be integrated into MOA list.”

Game on
The sports policy of the city came into effect on October 6, 2012. With this, PMC has become the first municipal corporation in the country to have such a policy for encouraging sportspersons. The strategy includes providing good training facilities, to protect land marked for playgrounds and promote development of sports activities for children. As per the policy, sports activity centres will be set up in different parts of the city. There are also guidelines for constructing sports complexes and developing grounds.

Not playing fair?
Even though now it seems that PMC sports committee is sidetracking traditional games like langdi, on January 4, despite stiff opposition from within its ranks, the civic body held a wrestling competition with budgetary provision of Rs 1.5 crore, under the name of mayor’s trophy. Besides 24 Indian wrestlers, 21 wrestlers from countries like Pakistan, Turkey and Iran took part. Incidentally, about a month after the competition, the International Wrestling Committee (IWC) dropped wrestling from its schedule for the 2020 Olympics. 

35 Approx no of mayor’s trophy events held in the city per year

12 No of such events PMC plans to organise annually from now onwards

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