Nagaland: Catch Them Young tourney aims to nurture Sepaktakraw talent

DYRS Director, Kethosito Sekhose and other officials during the press briefing at its office on May 20. (Morung Photo)

DYRS Director, Kethosito Sekhose and other officials during the press briefing at its office on May 20. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | May 20

In a bid to develop sports at the grassroots level, the Nagaland Department of Youth Resources & Sport (DYRS) has organized the ‘Catch Them Young’ tournament for under-14 children, with a specific focus on the sport of Sepaktakraw.

According to Kethosito Sekhose, Director YR&S, the tournament has already seen district-level competitions across all 16 districts of the state, with 15 districts expected to participate in the upcoming state-level event. Kiphire district has opted out due to the ongoing examinations.

Addressing some media personnel at its office this afternoon, he informed that the Under-14 Sepaktakraw tournament will be held on May 21 at IG Stadium, Kohima early morning, wherein 300 athlete children are expected to participate. The closing function is scheduled to be held at 4:30 pm with Commissioner & Secretary, Kesonyü Yhose as the guest of honour.

The Director said, the department’s decision to organise the Catch Them Young tournament for Sepaktakraw is based on the impressive achievements of Nagaland’s sub-junior, junior and even the senior teams in recent years since 2020. 

The state has won several medals, including two bronze medals in 2021, a silver and two bronze in 2021-2022 at the national and international level; a gold and bronze in the 2023 35th King’s Cup in Thailand and Indian women’s team which majority was from the state secured the Gold Medal in the 4th Asian Tournament held at Kathmandu etc, he informed.

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The ‘Catch Them Young’ tournament, Sekhose explained, is designed to identify and nurture young talent at the grassroots level, with the ultimate goal of producing players who can represent India in international competitions, including the upcoming 2026 Commonwealth Games to be held at Malaysia, where Sepaktakraw is likely to make its debut.

While Catch Them Young tournament for Sepaktakraw will continue for the next five years, the director expressed optimism that through this the talents will be honed at the grassroot level and that athlete will be able to do very well even in the international level.

“We will see if any changes come as far as performances are concerned. If we are able to produce good players within these two years’ time, perhaps they will be able to feature in the Indian National team” stated Sekhose.

He also informed that as of today among the Commonwealth nations, the number one is Malaysia followed by India.

On pre-Subroto selection process 
In a first its kind, perhaps among all states, the Director informed that unlike the previous years where Subroto teams were normally selected from schools at the last minute, it has started the pre-Subroto selection process from the district level in all the 16 districts for both boys (under-15) and girls (under-17). The districts, he said have been entrusted to select the best team through open competition.

Meanwhile, citing last year unfortunate incident where Nagaland team was disqualified from Subroto Cup due to discrepancies in age, Sekhose informed that inorder to avoid such things, the department has come up with a proper ‘bye-laws’ which has been circulated to all the districts.

As per the bye-laws, strict action will be taken if any of the team brings in overage players. ‘We are going to be very strict about this’ said Sekhose further adding that to ensure that each interested child gets the opportunity to represent himself or herself in the state team, it has  organised the district level tournaments for a fair and transparent selection.

The best team will come to Kohima wherein the first matches will commence on June 5 at IG Stadium Kohima. For the boys, it will be in the form of league-cum-knock out basis where the 16 districts will be divided into four groups, and the best four teams will play the semi-final and the final.

Also inorder to ensure that the age rules are followed strictly, he informed that the Chief Medical Officer will be roped in to atleast ensure that the necessary age testing methods are done, particularly the bone testing TW3.

Stating that the government is very serious on developing sporting talents for which a number of infrastructures are being developed with many more in the pipeline, the Director expressed hoped that athletes will be there in the medal standing when it comes to national and even international level.