Good Sports: Wrestling Academies Offer Hope for Better Life
It was Aamir Khan’s 2016 sports biographical film Dangal that got 19-year-old Aashu Beniwal interested in wrestling. She’s among 45 girls attending Yudhveer Akhada, a residential wrestling academy in Haryana, one of several wrestling academies that have sprouted in recent years to cater to the growing interest in wrestling among girls.
The movie Dangal, as well as the bronze medal won by Haryana’s Sakshi Malik at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, have inspired many Indian girls to take up wrestling, according to a New York Times feature on Yudhveer.
It costs about 15,000 rupees ($184) per month for a girl to attend Yudhveer, but many unprivileged families are making sacrifices, hoping that their daughters will follow in the footsteps of Malik or the Phogat sisters portrayed in Dangal. Even if they don’t win prestigious medals, the girls hope to make money and secure jobs through the sport.
“Some of us want to apply for jobs in the railways while some want to go into the army,” 16-year-old Anjali Pawar told The Times. “As far as I am concerned, I will accept the first job that is offered to me. Our families are looking at us full of hope.”
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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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