Home beckons Odisha’s lone female wrestling coach

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By Ashadeep Mohanty

Bhubaneswar: Rambha Sahoo, the lone female wrestling coach of Odisha, will again knock the doors of the State Government for a job as a coach.

Despite having a job in Kerala with a handsome salary and accommodation, the 27-year-old girl wants to come back to Odisha and serve her State by coaching young girls aspiring to become wrestlers.

A diploma holder from the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala in Punjab, Rambha has urged the Odisha Government several times after passing out from the NSNIS in 2013 to appoint her as a coach. With a new Sports Secretary having just taken charge, Rambha is hopeful of getting a job in her own State this time. She would meet the newly-appointed Sports Secretary Vishal Dev in Bhubaneswar on Monday.

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Rambha being awarded with diploma certificate at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala

A native of Kumbhar Sahi in Dhenkanal district, Rambha was refused a job when she had applied for it in 2014. She even faced harsh words from the official of the concerned department. “With the certificate of Diploma in Sports Coaching from the NSNIS, Patiala, I met Sports Secretary Saswat Mishra at his office in Bhubaneswar in 2014 to apply for a job. However, he refused to provide me a job. He said they are not obliged to give me a job just because I have done diploma in NSNIS. I was so disappointed with the way he responded, more so because he had given financial assistance of Rs 30,000 when I had gone to Patiala for the diploma course,” said Rambha, whose father, Jayakrushna Sahoo, is a daily labourer.

Coach Rambha, who had won many medals as a player at national level representing Odisha from 2003 to 2011, further said she had also urged the Sports Minister and Secretary and even the Chief Minister for the same, but her plea fell on deaf ears. However, this did not stop Rambha from going after her dreams. Realizing that there is no scope for wrestling in Odisha, she started applying for jobs in other States. Fortunately, the Gujarat Government appointed her as coach. Again a few months later, she was appointed by the Kerala State Sports Council (KSSC) in November 2014. Since then, she has been coaching boys and girls there and has brought many medals for the southern State.

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Replying to a question on why she wants to return Odisha even after being refused a job by the Sports Department, she said, “What is point of being born in Odisha if I do not utilize my skills and expertise for the development of my own State? There are many talents in Odisha. But the Government is not encouraging sportspersons to come up and hone their skills and represent the state at national or international platforms. Moreover, there are no incentives for coaches of any sports discipline in the State,” said Rambha, adding “I am ready to come back to Odisha and join as coach if the Government provides me good facilities.”

Coach Rambha with her students in Kerala
Coach Rambha with her students in Kerala

Sib Charana Bose, former wrestling coach at the Sports Authority of India in Dhenkanal and the teacher of Rambha, said an advertisement mentioning requirement of 28 coaches for eight disciplines had been issued by the Sport department in 2014. However, only nine were given appointment while no coach was appointed for wrestling even though Rambha was highly qualified for the post.

“Though there is a good number of aspiring wrestlers in several districts, including Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Ganjam, there are no qualified and skilled coaches to groom them. The Government did not appoint Rambha, the only qualified female coach of Odisha, to train girls in the State,” said Bose, who runs a gymnasium in Cuttack catering to around 400 youths.

“As Vishal Dev has joined the Sports Department as secretary, we would meet him and bring the matter to his notice. Let’s hope that things will work out this time,” he added.

Despite several attempts, Sports Secretary Saswat Mishra was not available for comments.

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