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How better sports infra, coaching facility in Rohtak is strengthening women players

Hindustan Times, Rohtak | By Sunil Rahar, Rohtak
PUBLISHED ON NOV 25, 2019 10:32 PM IST

Over the past few years, Rohtak has emerged as one of the best venues for players, especially women, to train themselves for national and international-level competitions. It is the only district in Haryana which has produced players of every discipline, be it wrestling or cricket.

The district boasts of 17 stadiums, including Sir Chhotu Ram Stadium and Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. The villages, which do not have stadiums, have wrestling pits (akhadas) and grounds.

These stadiums have facilities to train players as young as five. Many of the women wrestlers practising here have competed with Olympian Sakshi Malik and dream of the day when medals will be theirs.

Malik, who had won bronze in the 2016 Olympics in 58kg category, had practised at Sir Chhotu Ram Stadium till 2016. Another young wrestler, Pooja Gehlot, has been training here under coach Mandeep Singh. She had won silver at the Under-23 World Wrestling Championship in 53kg category this year.

Besides wrestling, girls training here have toppled their opponents in other games too.

Rohtak girl Kajal Saini had bagged two medals at the 14 Asian Shooting Championship in Doha this month. She took up shooting in her days as an NCC cadet at a local college here. Since Haryana does not have any range for 50-metre rifle, she had to shift to Tughlakabad in Delhi.

Rohtak Cricket Sensation

15-year-old Shafali Verma, a resident of Rohtak, has created history by breaking her idol Sachin Tendulkar’s record by scoring 73 runs off 49 balls.

“My father Sanjeev Verma has sacrificed a lot to help me achieve this feat. It was uncommon for a girl from a city like Rohtak to step outside and play cricket. In the beginning, I used to pedal my way to the cricket ground, but now I use a scooter. There had been instances when some boys even smashed my helmet, but that failed to deter me,” she says, adding that there is huge scope for girls to make their career in sports.

Wrestler Pooja Gehlot, whose family shifted to Rohtak from Sonepat’s Farmana village for her career, says, “My father works in education department in Delhi. I came here with my mother and two siblings because it is the best place for players in terms of facilities.”

Rohtak district sports officer (DSO) Sukhbir Balhara says players can practice basketball, volleyball, badminton, boxing, wrestling, Kabaddi and many other disciplines under one roof. “We have 47 coaches in the district, which is highest in the state. Players from other districts are shifting here because of better infrastructure, highly competitive atmosphere and fine coaching facility. Over 300 players train at Chhotu Ram stadium only,” he adds.

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