Sports Ministry does not want the wrestlers to suffer, says WFI secretary

RSPB secretary Prem Chand Lochab said the Ministry wants the wrestlers to not have any problems and that the championships should be organised in time.

Published : Feb 02, 2024 22:48 IST , JAIPUR - 4 MINS READ

 RSPB and WFI secretary PC Lochab.
 RSPB and WFI secretary PC Lochab. | Photo Credit: Y.B. Sarangi

 RSPB and WFI secretary PC Lochab. | Photo Credit: Y.B. Sarangi

With the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)-appointed ad-hoc committee asking the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) to conduct the Government-approved National wrestling championships here from Saturday, the Railway Stadium was abuzz with activities here on Friday.

As the Sports Ministry refused to recognise the National championships held in Pune, which was conducted by the ‘suspended’ Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the focus was on the recognised event here.

ALSO READ: Top wrestlers reach Jaipur for IOA-appointed ad hoc panel’s national championships

While monitoring the preparations, RSPB secretary Prem Chand Lochab, who is also the WFI secretary, spoke to  Sportstar about the challenges of hosting the Nationals and the Government’s approach towards wrestlers’ issues. 

Given the current scenario in Indian wrestling, what were the challenges in hosting the National championships?

The Ministry’s instruction was clear that the ad-hoc committee had to conduct the Nationals. The ad-hoc committee gave the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) responsibility to organise the event, and the RSPB is doing it.

What were the logistical challenges?

There were no logistical challenges. Railways is the biggest entity in promoting sports in the country. Indian Railways has nurtured and promoted so many sportspersons.

We conduct our inter-railway meets, and our teams in all sports participate in the National championships regularly. A complete ecosystem exists with the Railways, and we conduct sports events.

But does it not look like the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is split because you also hold the WFI secretary’s post?

The Ministry’s instruction about helping out the wrestlers is very clear. And the work is going on with that clarity. There is no such split. All the top wrestlers in the country are here to compete. Wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik, Sarita Mor are there. Nearly 600 wrestlers are participating here, almost from each and every state barring only a few.

Since the problem (related to WFI’s recognition) is likely to continue for some time, how do you see the future?

This is beyond our scope. As and when things unfold, we will see. Now is the time to work on merit, follow the Constitution and do what the law prescribes. So, our boundary line is clear.

Is there support from the Ministry?

The Ministry wants the wrestlers to not have any problems and that the championships should be organised in time. These are all the Ministry’s mandates. We are executing that so that the wrestlers do not lose out. We are trying to ensure that maximum wrestlers should come and compete.

ALSO READ: Sports Ministry warns of legal action against suspended WFI president

After coming here, they should not have any issues. We have made arrangements for their food and stay. All logistical support is being provided to them.

In this context, how are you going to handle a situation if a wrestler has competed in the Pune Nationals which is not recognised by the Ministry?

If someone has done well there, this platform is also open for him. He is not being stopped from participating here. All the wrestlers are permitted to participate here. No one has been debarred from the recognised event.

What about the officials who participated in the Pune event?

There are no restrictions on anybody. There is no such thing that if you go there, then you cannot compete here. This is the sanctioned event. We are trying to run it professionally.

How many units are participating here?

As per my information, more than 25 units are already there. Wrestlers from Services, Railways, Haryana and other states are there. As per my understanding, most of the top wrestlers in the country are here.

As a sports administrator, how will you address the insecurity in the mind of a young wrestler because of what is happening in the federation?

The Government has been doing so much for sports promotion. If the Government is issuing any instruction, it will never be to harm the interests of the wrestlers. The Government never has such an intention.

The intent is, that sports should run smoothly and flourish. The Prime Minister is so passionate about sports, and we have schemes like TOPS and Khelo India. The Government is trying its best to push sports and taking every step for the betterment of sports.

Since you are the WFI secretary, what do you think is United World Wrestling’s (UWW) take on the current scenario?

I have not had any interaction with UWW in this capacity (as WFI secretary). But UWW wants the organisation (as the national federation) should function in such a way that there would be welfare of sportspersons, and their interest is protected, and there should be a mechanism to address their issues related to women wrestlers’ security.

These are the concerns of the UWW, the Government and the Railways. We at the Railways have 10000 athletes, and we handle this responsibly.

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