Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Manipur's Sagol Kangjei (hockey on horseback) precursor of modern polo featuring on a postal stamp

Manipur Players Adapt Well to Modern Hockey Because of its 3 Traditional Game Variations of the Game

Hockey is a suitable game in Manipur. It has been a popular and principle game in Manipur. Before the arrival of modern hockey in Manipur the state had earlier played a game almost similar to it. We also have the history of this indigenous game in the folklore, myths and besides the written records. There has been history that almost all the able persons had played one or other games particularly Mukna Kangjei or Khong kangjei and Sagol Kangjei.

Manipur Hockey Team at the National Championship, Cuttack 1976 for first time: Source: Sanasam Iboyaima Singh, 3rd from left, first row (sitting ).

The modern game of hockey was introduced in Manipur with the coming of British on its soil. In this regards King Churachand Singh took a very active role in the development of modern games including Hockey in Manipur. Like other previous members of the royal families of Manipur Churanchard Singh also played and participated in some of the games. He himself as a player promoted the games like modern Hockey, football and cricket. During his time he had sent a contingent of sports to participate in the games held at Jorhat, in 1940 which was a big event of game popularly known as Olympic Game in Assam.

In 1940 Manipur became the champion of the hockey in the sporting event. During that time the royal families participated in many of sport events held at Manung Kangjeibung which was located inside Kangla Fort. Three teams namely the Palton Team which was represented by the British army, Johnstone team players of which were students, and the Maharaja Teams arranged by the Maharaja Churanchand Singh were prominent (S. Lokeshore).

Indigenous game of Khong Kangjei (hockey on foot)

The game of hockey and football were widely and popularly playing in Manipur. The modern hockey was learnt easily among the players because the state have already played the game of hockey with locally made sticks known as waaru kangjei made of bamboo stem and root, and ball was also mainly made of the roots of bamboo. Many other players also played with the suitably bent branches of trees and balls mainly made with clothes tightly packed like a small hockey ball (fiibull). Therefore, people were able to learn the modern hockey easily. After British left Manipur, the game was played in every local ground.

During the time when Manipur was still not a state of the country, teams from Manipur in various games could not participate in the National Championships directly. The hockey team of Manipur was affiliated to Assam, and therefore, Manipur had to participate in the Assam Inter-District hockey tournaments. The hockey team of Manipur had become the winner of the Inter-Districts tournament in 1957. Manipur players could only play as a team member of the Assam team.

Indigenous game of Mukna Kangjei (wrestling hockey)

One hockey player of Manipur was the captain of Assam team which played at Ootacamund in 1968 and his name was Soram Lokeshore Singh, whose name was once very popular in Manipur. However, though Manipur hockey team could not participate in the National Championship, Manipur could participate in certain tournaments where clubs or territories and state were eligible to participate.

When Manipur become a state in 1972 Manipur Hockey Association was formed in 1976 with Ng Meghachandra as the president and S. Lokeshore Singh the secretary. Thereafter, Manipur Hockey Association got affiliation to the India Hockey Federation.

Manipur state had started to participate in the 40th National Championship, 1976, Cuttack for the first time. The name of the players are:  P. Nilakamol Singh, L. Kumarjit Singh, Achou Singh, Rk. Joysana Singh, S. Iboyaima Singh, O. Rashbihari Singh, G. Surajkumar Sharma, W. Tombisana, Santikumar, Rk. Manisana (Captain), N. Hori, Ph. Bhisma, Ibopishak Singh, S. Punyaban, Ajit Singh. The Team Manager, Asst. Manager and Coach are Saryarshri B. C. Singh, Ng jugindro and Giridhari Singh Samal respectively.


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