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Burn a hole to pocket a medal

Soon after the hockey controversy, here's more proof that if you want to play for India, you have to pay for India.Four young wrestlers, who competed in the Youth Commonwealth Championship (16-18 years age group) in Singapore recently and did the country proud by winning four medals, had to bear the expenses of the trip.

other Updated: Jan 15, 2010 23:53 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Soon after the hockey controversy, here's more proof that if you want to play for India, you have to pay for India.

Four young wrestlers, who competed in the Youth Commonwealth Championship (16-18 years age group) in Singapore recently and did the country proud by winning four medals, had to bear the expenses of the trip.

Santosh Yadav (50kg), Pardeep Singh (76kg), Parabhpal Singh (85kg) and Gurpreet Singh (100kg) may have returned with a rich haul of two gold, a silver and bronze, but they had to pay a dear price for making the country proud. All this was courtesy the Wrestling Federation of India(WFI.

The WFI had not sent a proposal to the Sports Ministry asking for funds as they had decided to send the team on a “no cost to government” basis. The federation also did not raise funds for the trip and put the burden on the players.

“As it is, we have to spend a huge amount on diet and training, now we have to bear the expenses for representing and winning medals for the country.

“It was painful, but at the same time we didn't want to lose the opportunity as the event will help us in the Youth Olympics (also in Singapore),” said one of the wrestlers.

“We had no option but burden our parents as we have no source of income,” he added.

The WFI is divided on whether it should have sought government support or borne the players' expense itself.

“We don't know why the top brass didn't ask the ministry to fund the trip. If the government wasn't funding the trip, the federation should have borne the cost,” said a Wrestling Federation of India member.

When contacted, WFI president, G.S. Mandher, told Hindustan Times, “The federation was not interested in sending a team as we got the invitation late and the event was not on our list.

“As far as funding from the government is concerned, it allows participation in just two international events per year for this age group. We have identified two events of higher level which will provide better exposure.”

Asked why the WFI had burdened the players, he replied, “We had made it clear at the start that the federation was not interested in sending the team and if the players were keen, they had to bear their expenses.”

As both parties squabble, what comes out is the fact is that it is the system that is to be blamed.

While on hand, the government is planning to send a contingent for the Youth Olympic Games, it is unwilling to fund the preparations.