Since May 3, Manipur has been embroiled in an ongoing communal conflict, affecting every stratum of society, including its revered sports community. Known as a powerhouse of sports in India, Manipur has fostered extraordinary talents. However, the current turmoil is taking a toll on the state’s players. One notable athlete affected by the prevailing instability is Indian professional footballer Konsam Chinglensana. A key player for both the Indian Super League club Hyderabad and the national team, Chinglensana recently made a heart-wrenching decision. In light of the situation, he opted out of two international tournaments: the Inter-Continental Cup and the South Asian Football Federation Championship, scheduled for June and July, respectively. Hailing from Khumujama Leikai in Churachandpur district, Chinglensana’s family faced the impact of communal tension, as their house and football turf were vandalized. Consequently, he prioritized his family’s safety over the tournaments, standing by them during this challenging period. Despite missing two international tournaments, Chinglensana remains determined to shape youth and contribute to football development in the region. Recalling the harrowing day of the attacks, he shared, “”I thought it would be my last phone call with my family, but fortunately, they were evacuated safely.”” The communal tension distressed him further as his football turf, equipped with gym facilities to groom young talents, was also reduced to ashes. As a player representing the national team, Chinglensana had been selected for the Inter-Continental Cup 2023 and South Asian Football Federation Championship 2023. However, in light of the current crisis, he chose to put his football career on hold to support his family during these challenging times. The 27-year-old footballer made a sincere plea to both the state and central governments, urging them to address the situation in Manipur. He called for necessary security measures to ensure the safe return of displaced victims to their respective homes. Just a few days ago, on July 26, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur delivered some good news, expressing that both the Indian Men’s and Women’s national football teams are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, decided to relax the rules to facilitate their participation, considering their outstanding performances in recent times. Thakur expressed confidence that they would make the country proud in the Asian Games. Despite the government’s efforts to encourage team participation, there is one key and important player who won’t be able to play in the Asian Games 2023 due to internal disharmony in the country. Who bears the responsibility for this talented player’s inability to represent our nation on the international stage?
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