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Elite Pathway Programme (EPP) empowers Meghalaya athletes

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HT Bureau

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SHILLONG, June 19: Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) along with ARMS – PT/EDGE 10 – SPORTALITY, in collaboration with the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, announced the commencement of the Elite Pathway Training 2nd Camp, that took place on June 17th and 18th, 2023, at J.N. Stadium, Polo Ground, Shillong. The program aims to transform the sporting landscape in the region by nurturing young talent and fostering their development. The Elite Pathway Program is an integral part of the STAR Program, notified by the Government of Meghalaya and implemented by the Edge10 Group, an Australian-based company, and the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, the EPP aims to identify and develop talented athletes in Meghalaya through a data-driven and analysis-based approach. The distinguished occasion was graced by the presence of esteemed guests, including Sampat Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Programme Implementation & Evaluation Department, Government of Meghalaya, besides Guest of Honour Ian Campbell, an esteemed Olympian who represented Australia in the 1980 Olympics.

The event was also attended by John F. Kharshiing, Working President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, P B War Nongbri, Assistant Director of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, who shared insightful remarks on the occasion. P Laloo, Joint Secretary of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association and Isawanda Laloo, Director of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya expressed their gratitude, acknowledging the collaborative efforts that made the Elite Pathway Program a resounding success.

Speaking on the occasion, John F. Kharshiing, Working President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, stated, “I am delighted to witness the remarkable progress of the Elite Pathway Programme for athletes in Meghalaya. This program, in collaboration with the Meghalaya State Olympic Association and the Edge10 Group, has paved the way for a comprehensive talent identification and player development initiative. The programme stands out as a beacon of hope for our budding athletes, offering them access to cutting-edge training methods and expert guidance. I commend the dedication and expertise of Ian Campbell, a renowned Olympian, and his team, in leading this program. Their invaluable experience and commitment to nurturing talent have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in its success. We have an astounding 12 boys that did the vertical jump over 80cm. The App training is being monitored by 31 grassroots coaches supervised by MSOA-Edge10- Sportality. We have 3 girls (2 Super Elites) doing the vertical jump over 60cm and Enriyana Momin, only 13 yrs old athlete jumped 59.6cm. These are incredible results. This improvement is just from the basic 6-week training programme. In Camp-1 organized in March 2023 we only had 2 boys in the vertical jump over 80cm, while now we have 12 of them. In Camp-1 no girls jumped over 60cm. Now after another 6 weeks which is a total of 12 weeks in Camp-2 we have 3 girls plus Enriyana Momin a 13yrs old doing the vertical jump at 59.6cm. I extend my gratitude to the office bearers of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs, and all the stakeholders involved for their unwavering support. We express our appreciation to Conrad K Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya, and Shakliar Warjri, Minister, Sports, Government of Meghalaya, for their commitment and support towards this very important sports programme which is now showing results from the analysis. Together, we will build a strong sporting ecosystem in Meghalaya and foster a generation of champions.”

Ian Campbell, Olympian who represented Australia in the 1980 Olympics, stated, “Meghalaya has captivated me with its breathtaking natural beauty, and it is with great enthusiasm that I have embarked on this journey of talent identification and athlete development. Having tested over 14,500 children through numerous tests across the entire state, I have gained a vivid understanding of the immense potential that lies within these young athletes. Their natural talent, speed, and power hold limitless possibilities for the future. I am immensely grateful to John F Kharshiing, the Working President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, for placing their trust in me to devise a plan for talent identification and cultivate elite athletes from the state. Drawing upon my experience as an Olympian and my lifelong training from the age of 10, I aim to instill in these athletes the unwavering commitment and dedication required to excel in their respective sports, every day of the year. Our focus lies on key areas such as speed, power, overall body strength, and coordination across all sports. We believe these attributes can be harnessed and accentuated in critical sports that align with the physical prowess of Meghalaya athletes. Our ultimate objective is to nurture at least one, if not more, international professional athletes who can proudly represent Meghalaya on global platforms, competing in major championships or leagues across the world. We understand this journey will be long and arduous, but our unwavering commitment to their development will remain steadfast throughout the years.””

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The Edge10 Program, a component of the Elite Pathway Programme, has emerged as one of the largest talent identification and player development initiatives held in India. It involves the testing and analysis of over 14,500 children in Meghalaya through district and block-level identification camps. This data-driven approach allows for the accurate evaluation of athletic potential in young athletes. From this extensive talent identification program, approximately 200 athletes with high potential have been shortlisted for the Elite Pathway Programme. These athletes are undergoing a year-long development programme divided into two parts. The first part consists of app-based training, where athletes receive three training sessions per week, facilitated by local coaches and accessible through dedicated app. Weekly tests are conducted to measure their progress.

The second part of the Elite Pathway Programme involves quarterly in-person camps at the SAI Centre NEHU, where the shortlisted athletes receive comprehensive training under the guidance of Ian Campbell and his team. This hands-on approach allows for a holistic assessment of athletes’ progress and provides a platform for interaction with renowned coaches. Notably, the previous camp in April 2023 featured the presence of ex-Manchester United player Jesper Olsen, among other esteemed coaches. The ongoing Elite Pathway Programme focuses on utilizing data generated from testing to encourage athletes to push their boundaries and enhance their development. A dedicated data analysis team creates a ranking system based on athletes’ performance, age, and potential for improvement. This data-driven approach allows for personalized recommendations to enhance athletes’ skills, identify suitable sports, and address individual strengths and weaknesses.

The Department of Sports, Government of Meghalaya, is closely monitoring the development of these athletes and is committed to providing targeted interventions to nurture their potential. Additionally, the Mass Talent Identification Programme will continue to identify more athletes with high potential in areas yet to be covered. The Elite Pathway Program (EPP) stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs, and the Edge10 Group. Through their combined dedication, this program is shaping the future of sports in Meghalaya by empowering young athletes to excel on a national and international level.

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