Jat Regiment HQ at Bareilly – a hotbed of athletes who are the pride of India
Barilly: Dark clouds and drizzle mark this August morning at the Jat Regiment headquarters in Bareilly as officers launch the wreath laying ceremony at the regiment’s memorial. In the compound a few hundred meters away, young wrestlers prepare to face off – the regiment is also a central linchpin in the Indian Army’s sporting philosophy.
With gun salutes and a ceremonial march by the regimental commander, Brigadier Adarsh Butail, the memorial is decorated with wreaths. Although the morning begins on a solemn note, officers’ morale is high as India’s 75th anniversary approaches.e Independence year. Fittingly, as the ceremony wraps up, the clouds begin to part for clearer skies.
India’s post-colonial military history is intertwined with the bravery and service of the Jat Regiment, be it the Battle of Dograi in the 1965 war or the 1971 war. But the regiment has also brought laurels out of the battleground – of some of the toughest sports arenas in the world.
But before the medals come the sweat and a grueling training regimen that produces world-class athletes.
The Jat Regiment nurtures champion athletes, especially wrestlers, through a two-tier admissions process.
“Young boys between the ages of 8 and 14 who show potential in sport, especially wrestling, are inducted into the Regiment’s Boys Sports Company (BSC). They are therefore trained, taught and educated in the regiment,” Subedar Major Poornveer Singh of the Jat Regiment told ThePrint.
“Many have become champions through BSC, and once they reach the eligible age, they are inducted into the military,” Singh adds.
“Outside of the BSC, the regiment focuses on mentoring wrestlers already inducted into the army who have the potential to become champions. Since 2013, we have been operating as the green node for the army wrestling setup. wrestlers are sent here to train, level up and gain skills.Once they start earning medals, they are transferred to the Army Sports Institute (ASI), the red knot (for senior athletes) in Pune,” says Subedar Ajit Kumar, Head Coach of the Green Wrestling Knot.
The regiment’s champion athletes include Olympian wrestler Subedar Mukhtiar Singh, two-time Commonwealth gold medalist (1966 and 1970), Subedar Bhim Singh, high jump gold medalist at the 1966 Asian Games, and most recently Subedar Sandeep Kumar , bronze medalist in the 10 km walk at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. There is also Havaldar Ravinder Khatri who qualified for the 86 kg Greco-Roman wrestling at the Rio Olympics.
The regiment has also produced many junior and national champions, such as Ankit, an 18-year-old gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. Over time, the regiment has trained, motivated and pushed these athletes into various abilities.
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Boys Sports Company to International Champions
A few hundred meters from the ceremonial lawn is the main exercise centre, consisting of two buildings. The former houses the Mukthiar Singh Wrestling Arena. The facility is equipped with fight mats, climbing ropes, spectator areas and tall windows through which sunlight falls.
The other building, adjoining the wrestling arena, has a narrow entrance, fitted with a double glazed aluminum door, and looks like a barracks transformed into a gymnasium. Although equipped with all the cables and machines that modern athletes need.
In the wrestling arena, two young wrestlers face off in the background, swinging from one grappling hook to another. Subedar Jasbir, head coach of BSC, says: “We are training around 30 young boys.
After spotting talents, the group of young boys undergo physical and character tests; based on that, we induct them into BSC, says Naib Subedar Rakesh Kumar, one of the coaches of BSC.
The primary goal of the BSC is to develop champion wrestlers for the military and, eventually, the country. Those who start playing early and earn medals are inducted into the military; some are even transferred to the ASI to develop their talent and make them compete at the international level.
The day of a young BSC starts early. At 05:30, they report for training. The morning session lasts until 8 am. This is followed by academic classes which last up to 13 hours. The boys are back for training at 5 p.m., which lasts until 7 p.m., says Kartik, a young BSC member from Baghpat in western Uttar Pradesh.
Education is at the heart of the BSC curriculum. Particular attention is given to ensuring that the boys receive an education equivalent to the school curriculum within the regiment. A math class followed at school for BSCs while ThePrint visited the regiment.
“Boys’ training is based on age and strength. When the boys are young, we focus on wrestling technique, mat tactics, flexibility and endurance. They are also brought to practice other sports to develop their sense of the game,” explains head coach Jasbir Singh.
Sometimes BSCs are also brought in to compete against older wrestlers who are part of the green knot. Training with fitter, stronger wrestlers helps them develop their skills, says Subedar Paramjit, another regimental wrestling coach. Once the boys get older, usually above 14, they begin to focus on strength training and increase the intensity of their wrestling training.
The carefully designed program for the BSCs brings results across the spectrum of competitions at national and international levels. Lalit Kumar recently won bronze at the U17 World Wrestling Championship in the 48kg freestyle category.
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Feed the Green Knot Wrestlers
In addition to developing talents through the BSC, the Jat Regiment is also the green knot of the army’s struggle.
Back at the gym, wrestling coach Naib Subedar Deva Ram, originally from the Grenadiers, said: “There are almost 40 athletes training with us here at the Green Node. Our goal is to train them for Army Championships, Service Championships and Nationals.
The average age of wrestlers who train at the green knot ranges between 18 and 30 years old. “Those who come first in the army championship, go to ASI Pune. Those who are second, come here. Think of it as a Red Knot nurturing academy,” adds Deva Ram.
Among the green knot wrestlers is Naib Subedar Basant, standing well over 6ft 5in, who competes in the 130kg freestyle. Basant, who has competed and won medals in national and inter-service competitions, said, “In addition to training and training us, the Army takes care of all needs during injury and rehabilitation.”
Essentially, the Green Node aims to improve and build the pool of Army wrestlers to compete in international events including the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Olympics.
Naib Subedar Laxman Pawar of 5 Maratha, Green Knot Coach, says, “The training involves intensive development of strength, speed and endurance. We also focus on developing the motor skills and technical work of the wrestlers on the mat.
A consensus among Green Knot coaches is that a major change due to training, honing and preparations at the Jat Center, is that now wrestlers have developed an attitude where they only compete to win medals, regardless of the scale. competition, international or national. No one is competing for “experience” alone.
“Essentially, we hope to have all wrestlers move from green knot to red in Pune within a year or two after training here,” says Ajit Kumar, head coach of the knot.
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Future plans for the center
A few meters from the ceremonial lawn is the office of Subedar Major Pooranveer Singh of the Regiment Centre, perched behind an intricately carved wooden desk. Commenting on the glorious history of the regiment, Singh says, “The Jat Regiment has always produced national and international athletes. We will continue to do so and develop and build the BSC program and the Green Node for the fight.
Deepak Punia, a gold medalist in the 86kg freestyle at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games, also trained briefly at the Jat Regiment. Subedar Sandeep, was also here before moving to ASI Pune, reflecting the regiment’s indelible links to the sporting achievements of the armies.
The Jat Regiment will soon be the green knot for Kabbadi.
“Our ambition is to develop good athletes and players who can bring distinctions to the country. Our identity is intertwined with sport,” adds Pooranveer Singh.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)