National-level Women Wrestlers Grapple With Punjab's Paddy Fields to Make Ends Meet
National-level women wrestlers from Moga district of Punjab work in the paddy fields during the day and practice in the evening to support their families and still keep the lamp of their dreams burning.
The wrestlers' national-level achievements are not helping them financially. (Photo Credit: News18.com)
Chandigarh: That national-level athletes from difficult backgrounds more often than not have to struggle to make ends meet is a known ordeal. Even then nothing much is done to help them is the more troubling pattern.
As national women wrestling champions from Ranseer village of Moga district in Punjab Arshpreet, Rupinder and Karamjit help their parents in the paddy fields under the scorching summer sun, the major debate of economic sustenance through sports only gets deeper.
These girls are national-level wrestlers. Arshpreet has won many titles at the state and national levels but that did not pave way for her to help her family in any way. Her medals lie at home as she toils in the fields as a labourer to make ends meet.
Despite all the hardships, what shines through the character of these girls is their courage and the spirit of never giving up. Even as the sport fails to give them back anything as well, they still dream of achieving excellence in their sport.
If their mornings are spent in the dusty fields, their evenings are without fail for wrestling practice. Along with all of this, they manage their academics as well.
They dream... and dream of becoming world-class wrestlers and want to give their families a better tomorrow. Their families, despite no return yet, stand by the dreams of their girls - they push them and support them. Their wanting eyes looking at the ministers with garlands around their necks and words blaring out of microphone - all they desire is some help.
Government support, however, remains scant.
Fifteen time national-level wrestling competition winner Navjot Kaur says government did announce cash awards for them but it never reached their accounts. "With a little push we can do so much better for the country in sports."
Their coach Harbhajan Singh does not stop hoping either, despite all odds. "One day the country will be proud of these girls," he says.
On the other hand, district sports officer Balwant Singh claims that the girls are being provided all facilities by the government - the condition of the athletes speaks a different story though.
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