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To counter NGOs, WFI coaches for top wrestlers 

New Delhi, February 12

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has decided to help elite wrestlers in getting personal coaches and bear the expenses involved. The decision is a reaction against a few sports NGOs, who support the elite grapplers, and their working. Recently, WFI roped in a reputed coach, Andre Cook, for the women’s team. Cook, who is on the payroll of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and is reportedly paid $4500 per month, has already joined the national camp that started in Lucknow on February 5.

To the federation’s anger and dismay, two of the elite wrestlers, Sakshi Malik and Pooja Dhanda, put in a request to train and compete in Switzerland and Germany on the dates coinciding with the camp. Both of them have been told to participate only in the United World Wrestling ranking competitions, and not waste time in random competitions.

“What is the point of having a highly paid foreign coach and organising a camp without elite wrestlers? So, we stopped them from going,” a WFI source told The Tribune on Tuesday. “We know the said NGO wants to help in the development of a wrestler but this is not the right way. And this isn’t the first time such a thing is happening. So, we have decided to provide our elite wrestlers with personal coaches,” he added. 

Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, two of the brightest prospects for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, have been travelling for training as well as competition with their personal coaches provided by the NGOs supporting them. Bajrang travels with Georgian Shako Bentinidis, while Vinesh has improved by leaps and bounds under the guidance of Hungary’s Woller Akos.

In fact, both Bentinidis and Akos have been permitted to join the camps. “It has become a trend to have personal coaches and they are big help as they help out in the development of the sparring partners as well. So we will help the wrestlers if they need personalised coaching. Why should they (NGOs) get all the credit when we can do the same work,” the source further said.

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