Future of Young Wrestlers At Risk

‘Brij Bhushan’s Arrogance Has Put Future of Young Wrestlers at Risk’

Future of Young Wrestlers At Risk

Om Prakash Yadav, a former wrestler from UP, says the chest-thumping by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh after the WFI election was unnecessary, unwanted. His views:

When the controversy first dogged the Wrestling Federation of India over alleged misbehavior of then federation president Brij Bhushan Saran Singh with women wrestlers, most young grapplers were concerned that it may affect the holding of Nationals event and subsequently their selection process. They wanted an early solution to the conflict for the sake of their sports career.

Though the controversy dragged on for a while, things did seem to fall back on track after Brij Bhushan was sacked and fresh elections for the federation office were announced. Sanjay Singh was elected the new WFI president and even though it was an open secret as to which camp he belonged, it appeared that normal functioning of the federation will be restored.

The elections were free and fair as these were held under the supervision of the Court – with not a single question raised on its transparency. Young wrestlers were happy when the dates of the under-15 and under-20 Nationals were declared; it was a welcome decision by the new president Sanjay Singh. But the happiness was short lived.

An unnecessary ‘shakti-pradarshan’ (public show of strength) was organized by the newly elected president where he arrogantly declared, “Dabdaba thaa… dabdaba rahega” (our camp dominated WFI and shall continue to do so). This triggered angry reaction from erstwhile protesting wrestlers and the same old controversy revived. It took the WFI back to the same confrontation point from where it had been struggling to come out.

ALSO READ: Dabdaba Tha, Dabdaba Rahega, Says Sanjay Singh

Everyone knew the collaboration between the ex and the newly elected president but to publicly drive the point home was not necessary, especially at a time when the media was showing returning of the Padma Shri (by Bajrang Punia) and announcement of retirement from the sport by Sakshi Mallik.

Now, as per the latest development, the Sports Ministry has asked the Indian Olympic Association to form an ad hoc committee to run the affairs of the WFI after suspending all the activities of the newly activated body. Going a step further, the ministry instructed the WFI not to carry out any activities after it announced junior national championships in violation of norms.

The biggest loser in this battle is the young wrestler. The conflict has put at risk the future of under-20 and under-18 wrestlers who aim for sports-quota government jobs that have an age limit of under 18 and 20 such as the defence services. Now, by the time things come back to normal, they may find themselves on the wrong side of the age-bar. The development has also shocked the wrestler community which believed that the scuffle between two different camps had been laid to rest.

The sports ministry cannot be blamed for its harsh decision as it was much expected and much `invited’. This could also not be termed as a one-sided or biased decision as the ministry has acted for the betterment of the WFI and the sport. The public display of arrogance and seeing the election as the victory for only a section of wrestlers must be discouraged and not go unpunished. My heart beats for the young wrestlers who have to bear the brunt for no fault of their own.

As told to Rajat Rai

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