After waiting for more than a year for a professional coach, the Alandi-based Jog Maharaj Vyayamshala (JMV) has finally got a woman coach: Samiksha Kharab from Hisar, Haryana. In August last year, Pune Newsline had reported that though the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had approved the requirement for a coach at the centre, it had failed to make the appointment.
WATCH | Trouble For BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, Election Commission Sends Notice
In October 2015, the Maharashtra State Wrestling Association (MSWA) had recognised JMV as the main centre in the state to train women wrestlers for ‘Mission Olympic 2020 and 2024’.
In 2015, SAI had adopted JMV, along with four other ‘akharas’, based in Gurmandi (Delhi), Shahbad Daulatapur (Delhi), Hisar (Haryana) and Alipur (Delhi).
Kharab, 23, said she comes from a family of sportspersons. While her father was a kabaddi player, her elder sister is a wrestler. She was the national wrestling champion for two consecutive years – 2009 and 2010 – when she bagged a gold medal. She also won a bronze medal in the Asian Championship in 2010.
“Since my father was a sportsman, he encouraged me and my sister to take up wrestling,” said Kharab.
Dinesh Gund, founder and coach of JMV, said he was happy that SAI had finally appointed a coach at the centre and the young wrestler trainees at the centre would benefit from Kharab’s experience.
JMV, a residential wrestling centre located in a bylane of Ghundare Patil Nagar in Alandi, is the only centre for women in the entire state. Started by Gund in 2007 with three girls, it now has 42 girls, who hail from across Maharashtra.
While accommodation and training is free for trainees, they have to pay the mess charges. The girls study in various schools and colleges located in and around Alandi.
Given that the centre is one of the ‘akharas’ adopted by SAI, the trainees of JMV are sanctioned an amount of Rs 3,000 per trainee per year for competition exposure, Rs 3,000 for sports per trainee per year and a stipend of Rs 1,000 per trainee per month to supplement their diet charges.
“I have seen her (Kharab) on the wrestling mat and can say that she is very talented. Also, having a woman coach for the girls has its own advantages… as her approach will be different than that of a male coach,” said Gund.
Since the time she has joined JMV, Kharab has held multiple sessions with the trainees. She stressed that the wrestling practiced in Haryana is different from what is practiced in Maharashtra, in terms of techniques and style, and she plans to work on that with the trainees.
On the difference between the wrestling cultures, she said in Haryana, one will find a wrestler in almost every house. Even the state government encourages the players a lot, in terms of giving prize money and organising competitions.
Kharab said there is a lot of difference between the diets of the two states. In Haryana, though the wrestlers eat simple food, they indulge a lot in doodh-dahi (milk-curd) and dry fruits, which gives them strength. On the other hand, the diet in Maharashtra is too spicy, she said.
“Having said that, I feel that the wrestling scene in Maharashtra is gradually picking up,” said Kharab, who is married to wrestler Yudhveer Rana, winner of the coveted wrestling title Hind Kesari.
According to Kharab, recent developments like wrestler Sakshi Malik’s win at Rio Olympics and the success of wrestling film Dangal, based on the Phogat sisters, has given a huge boost to the wrestling scene in the country.
“Not only the players, but even parents are now motivated to encourage their children to pursue wrestling. From the day I have come here, so many parents have come to meet me, to ask me about the prospects of wrestling for their daughter,” said Kharab.