For the first time ever, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday launched their annual central contracts. The contracts were awarded to 24 of their seniormost wrestlers, in effect from November 15.

Star wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Asian Games 2018 gold medallist Vinesh Phogat and Pooja Dhanda are enlisted in the top Rs 30-lakh Grade A

The others have been divided in four other categories – B to E. Unfortunately, two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who are currently not in top form, could only make it to Category B, and will be offered a financial support of Rs 20 lakh each.

READ: Navjot Kaur – First Indian Woman Wrestler To Clinch Asian Gold

With its one-of-a-kind contract system for the grapplers, WFI is the first Indian Olympic Association-affiliated National Sports Federation to offer contracts to its athletes. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the only other governing body do to this in the past.

According to the reports, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Pooja Dhanda will get an annual retainership of Rs 30 lakh each, besides other benefits

The announcement was made by WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. He said, “Grapplers could move up or down after review in the grades.”

Talking about Sushil and Sakshi’s placement, Singh told Indian Express, “Sushil changed the face of the sport in the country with his two Olympic medals. We have to have him in the list despite the fact that he is not competing much. Sakshi’s performance is also going up and down but wrestlers can jump into the next category with good performance.”

Sharing his excitement after the news of making it to category A, Bajrang said, “Wrestling can’t get better than this. The central contracts system is a big boon and will boost our morale.”

It (the money) will motivate us more than ever and it provides good competition among wrestlers:  Vinesh Phogat

“The budget will shoot up now and we can use it for more exposure in terms of training and competitions abroad. We can plan better now without worrying about funds. I plan to compete in at least five tournaments, specially the UWW ranking events, next year,” she added.

“Our idea is to give maximum benefits to wrestlers, right from the ones who are on national duties and performing consistently to the ones who show the potential to take this legacy forward,” said the WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh.

“The money will not only give them sustenance but also motivate to keep doing well at all levels, especially internationally. With all their needs addressed and a financially-secured present, the players can freely focus on their training and pursuit for excellence,” the WFI president added.

Picture credit: TOI

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