What is Pencak Silat? That is a question that most Goans who are following the National Games being hosted by Goa could be asking. The reason for this query would be that at the time of writing, over 50 per cent of the medals that Goa has won in the ongoing Games have come from this one martial art that has been introduced in the Games this year.
By the end of the Games, it is likely that Goa’s Pencak Silat tally could be around the 50 per cent mark of the total medals that Goa wins.
Goa has won 19 medals in Pencak Silat, an Indonesian martial art form that uses the entire body for performing.
The official website of the Indian Pencak Silat Federation says it “employs natural body movements and develops balance and economy of movement in each individual. It can be practiced purely for sport and fitness, for the aesthetic beauty of the art or for the chance to learn one of the world’s few remaining complete traditional martial arts systems.”
That is merely a brief explanation of the martial art form that encompasses much more. But let that be for the moment, as what is of interest here is how Goa can build upon its performance in the sport in these Games to take it further.
Right now, Pencak Silat is a non-medal sport at the Olympics, so the possibility that it may someday be a competitive one exists. So, if Goa has such a good showing in the sport at the national level, why not look further?
So, was this a flash-in-the-pan performance by the team or has Pencak Silat come to roost in Goa? The sport, one gathers through talking to exponents of it, is rather new in Goa and the team got together just a few months ago but gelled well enough to pocket a gold, two silver and the rest bronze.
Now that’s amazing as there are other sports in which Goa has been competing for ages but is still far from challenging the other states, and even further from winning a medal. What therefore makes Pencak Silat different from the rest of the sports, martial arts included?
It is not as if Goa is the only exponent of the sport, other states too have done well. Remember, Goa won only one gold in Pencak Silat, so the top spots went to other States. It is not as if Goa has no competition and is dominating in the sport. Most of the medals were in the bronze category.
Which brings us to the other sports. What about football, one might ask. Where does Goa stand in this sport at the National Games? Well, the State sport has not been doing all that well in the competition and has only seen losses this far in the games.
The men’s team got a rude awakening when it lost its opener to Services and then the next game to Karnataka, effectively ruling them out of contention despite having a match in hand against Punjab.
Of course, news reports listed out reasons of the choice footballers being held on by clubs, but surely Goa can do better in football, can’t it? Shouldn’t it? Well, it should and if Goa is not performing well in football, then what has been the outcome of the Goa Football Development Council that was set up a decade ago? Shouldn’t it have been showing some results by now, positive results especially?
If it was nurturing young talent then there have been enough years for that talent to show their prowess on the field in the senior category, but apparently that performance is not showing on the football field.
On the same day that the soccer team lost to Karnataka the beach football team, on which many hopes were riding, lost to Kerala in the final to finish with the silver. They won a medal no doubt but fans had been hoping for nothing less than a gold, especially after the manner in which the Goa team had dominated in its earlier games.
The National Games are getting to be quite an eye-opener as to Goa’s abilities in the sports arena. It may be very early to say it, but there could actually be a shift in what sports Goa is getting good at, as the once powerhouse of Indian football is going through a rough patch.
It may not be Pencak Silat that will do it for Goa, but if the State does not improve its football performance, it may start losing some fans.