Chaos and confusion prevailed at the Delhi High Court-monitored Kabaddi “selection trials” at the wrestling hall at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Saturday morning. The trials, advertised as a match between the 2018 Asian Games squad versus those who were left out, according to petitioners, turned out to be anything but that. Neither the men nor the women’s Asiad team turned up at the KD Jadhav wrestling hall. Instead, women players from different age categories, mostly from the city, took part in the trials in front of a bunch of clueless officials. The New Kabaddi Federation of India (NKFI) players, who have been training at a camp in Bangalore since August 15, reached the Capital this morning anticipating a match-up with the Asiad squads. The 34-member squad decked in their bright sporting gears approached the mats with great enthusiasm only to learn that it was all an exercise in futility. They didn’t participate.
“We were not sure what was going to happen. We are as much confused as the officials here. We were asked to come, we came,” a player from the squad said.
The “selection trial” was ordered by the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao after former India international Mahipal Singh moved the court against the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) alleging wrongdoing in the selection of the Asiad squad. Delhi High Court Justice (retired) SP Garg, who was appointed as the observer for the “selection” remained tight-lipped about the event. “I cannot interpret court orders, please. I am here for the selection trials and I will file a report,” said Garg who was seen taking notes of the proceedings. The retired judge turned down numerous questions on what team for these selections were being held for. A Sports Authority of India selector observing the women’s performance echoed Garg’s response. “I am just observing. I don’t what team these selections are for.”
Coach Joginder, who at the AKFI’s request, roped in the young women for Saturday’s trials “had no clue” either. “I have no idea what these selections are for. Please ask the federation,” the coach said. The AKFI officials too gave out clueless stares on quizzed about the purpose of Saturday’s trials. AKFI’s assistant secretary Deoraj Chaturvedi said, “I am here today just to ensure the trials are run smoothly. To ensure the referees are present and monitor the arrangements.”
What are these trials for? “I don’t know,” he said. AKFI joint secretary Niranjan Singh kept stressing that “nowhere in the court order was it mentioned that the trials were supposed to be between the Asiad squad members and those left out”. He also felt it was unfair to expect the Asian Games players to turn up for the trial. “The NKFI members are just trying to tarnish the image of the sport in the country. Tell me, isn’t it unfair to expect them to give a trial now. And in fact, the court never said it was a trial involving them. We could not win golds at the Asiad due to poor refereeing and not because our teams were bad,” Niranjan said.
BS Nagar, the petitioner’s advocate, called the trials a farce and said it was a “clear case of contempt of court”. “When we are saying that the Asian Games selection was unfair and the court says that we want to observe the selection process, it’s obvious that we are talking about the Asiad squad. They did not come because they were feared to lose. It’s a clear case of contempt of court and we will file an application,” Nagar said. Mahipal had approached the court soon after the Asian Games squad alleging selections were unfair and bribes were taken by the AKFI headed by Mridul Bhadauria, wife of Janardan Singh Gehlot, the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) president. Now the report on Saturday’s selection, including video will be presented to the court. The next hearing is on October 30.