KOCHI: Haryana and Uttar Pradesh might be India’s wrestling bastions. But Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is apparently not happy with the sport being limited to tiny pockets in the country. In a bid to popularise the sport and end monopoly of states, WFI is mulling barring wrestlers of one state from representing other states at national championships. In principle, this decision will hit Haryana wrestlers, who flock to other states in search of opportunities.
The decision was taken by top bosses in WFI, and a cicular will be issued to state units soon. The rule will come into effect from the upcoming senior national championship, slated to be held in the second week of November in Gonda, UP.
“There is little doubt that states like Haryana have supplied great wrestlers, who went on to win medals for the country. But we have to think ahead, and create a stronger pool of wrestlers to cement sports base in the country. For that, we have to take some bold and hard steps.
“From the upcoming national championship, we will only allow wrestlers to represent their home state, or the state in which they are working. This is to ensure that wrestlers from other states also get due attention and exposure,” said WFI secretary VN Prasood.
According to sources in the wrestling fraternity, the move is aimed at directly checking influx of wrestlers, who fail to make the state team, from Haryana. The state being national champions, has got two berths in one weight category, while the rest are allotted only one berth in each category.
“Wrestling is so popular in Haryana that those who can’t make the state team move to other states in search of opportunities. The best wrestlers, who have won the state championships, will be selected to the state team, while others migrate to other states — mostly North Eastern and southern states. Naturally, wrestling has become an-all Haryana affair. But it’s difficult for local boys and girls, and the game has lost its base in such states. So, this bold decision was taken so that kids from other states also can come up to national reckoning,” said a source.
The decision was welcomed by state units, who feel insecure of Haryana’s influence. R K Purushotham, Andhra state wrestling unit chief, said the move will benefit home-grow wrestlers. “Wrestling has lost it’s traction with public in the South. If we want to bring the status up, local talent needs to be promoted. AFI’s move seems to be a logical one,” he added.
However, there are wrestlers with hopes on other states to come into national reckoning. Take for instance Neetu Sarkar, an aspiring wrestler in 53kg. Devoid of cash and recognition, she was eyeing a move to the south at the upcoming nationals. But now that has been nixed. “I wanted to represent some southern state. But it won’t happen now” she said.