In an unprecedented step, the Wrestling Federation of India has decided to hand out central contracts to 150 wrestlers as soon as this year’s Senior National Championships ends on December 2. The decision was taken after a meeting on Tuesday in New Delhi which was presided over by WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The federation has felt the need to give central contracts to make wrestlers self-sufficient and with a view to change the mindset of how wrestling is looked upon in India.

“This step is aimed at giving every wrestler motivation to perform better and make them self-sufficient. No wrestlers should feel that the lack for money has stopped him or her from performing at an event. The contracts will be given to 150 wrestlers throughout the age-groups and styles. We will pick the wrestlers from the national competitions beginning with senior level and then other age-groups,” Assistant Secretary of WFI Vinod Tomar told Scroll.

The senior National Championships will be held in Nandini Nagar, Gonda from November 30 to December 2 this year.

While WFI is sponsored by TATA Motors, Tomar said that money is not used in central contracts. The WFI is hoping, despite no other sponsor present at the moment, the central contracts will be implemented and more sponsors will join in near future and make this a success.

“Money by TATA is only for training and not for this. We will pay for this from other sponsors and President Singh will also contribute. This is not a bogus scheme and will be done with all formalities before the nationals, and rolling it out without any delay,” he said.

The contracts will be divided into nine categories alphabetically from A to I with the highest category wrestlers getting a total of Rs 30 lakh for an year. The brackets for each categories are yet to be decided but the lowest limit will be Rs 30000.

The federation has also decided to hand out contracts to few of India’s top wrestlers by mid-November so they can prepare for the major tournaments beginning with the Asian Championships in March next year.

The contracts will also be extended to include U15 wrestlers who perform exceeding well at the national and international levels. According to Tomar, a national level gold medallist in U15 category will be included in the Category-I and if same wrestlers goes on to win the gold medal at Asian level, he will be promoted to Category-H and likewise.

“We want to tap the talent everywhere and there should be no monetary problem for a wrestler. We don’t want an U15 wrestler to drop out because he did not have money to continue wrestling. This will also create a mentality that gold is the only medal they should get. Nothing less than that,” he said.

India hosted their first ever U15 National Championships in Meerut in June this year and also participated in the U15 Asian Championships for Men’s Freestyle and Greco Roman in Iran. The women’s team will participate in the U15 Asian Championships in Japan on November 16.

But the WFI also reserves the right to remove a particular wrestler from the contracts depending on the performance and discipline.

“Not all the gold medallists can be the best at senior level so we will be bringing them down in the categories. We can also remove some wrestlers if they do not perform. This step is only taken to improve the performance of Indian wrestlers,” Tomar said.

Comparing it to the central contracts offered to BCCI, Tomar said that while the money is less to each individual, the age-group cricketers do not fall under BCCI’s contracts.

“Top cricketers get the contracts not the young ones who play at age-group levels. We are doing it so no one can complain that a wrestler failed to make it because no one supported him,” he said.

Clarification: The original copy mentioned highest payment in Category A as Rs 36 lakh and payment in lowest category as Rs 30 lakh