GUWAHATI: The Meghalaya government has kicked off its mission to make rafting a popular sport in the state. The first step towards that goal was achieved on Thursday, when Megha Kayak Festival 2023, kicked off at the breathtaking Umtrew River in Umtham village in Ri Bhoi district.
In its sixth edition, more than 100 participants from nearly 20 countries around the world, including some professionals, are expected to give the white waters of the Umtrew River a try in the festivities.
The festival boasts an array of exciting professionals white-water-kayaking competitions as well as races for intermediate and amateur racers. Among them the Downriver Time Trial, Extreme Slalom, and Downriver Freestyle events, are garnering much traction.
Water sports powerhouses such New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Canada are among the participants this year, attracting the attention of the global kayaking community.
The festival is a part of the government’s plan to promote water sports in the state. Earlier, in July, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had inaugurated the “Meghalaya Rafting” initiative in Umtham village, marking the government’s commitment to boost rafting as a popular sport in the state.
The programme is expected to give a boost to the sport’s potential in promoting adventure tourism and engaging the youth.
For several years, the Ri-Bhoi Water Sports and Tourism Cooperative Society, in collaboration with the Meghalaya Canoe Association, has actively championed rafting in the village.
Organised by the Ri Bhoi Water Sports and Tourism Corp, this year’s edition of Megha Kayak Festival is supported by Meghalaya’s Department of Sports and Youth Affairs and the IKCA (International Kayak Canoe Association).