Print Edition: October 1, 2014
Thanks to the efforts of coaches Raj Virdi and Arjan Bhullar, UFV’s wrestling team is finally entering its first season of competition.
Both coaches have an incredible amount of experience with the sport. Coach Bhullar, a former wrestler in the 2012 summer Olympics, comes from an Indo-Canadian background like many members of the team. Shortly after his appearance at the Olympics, he was given the opportunity to represent Canada in an international trades mission to India, where wrestling is one of two national sports.
Bhullar then got into contact with P.R. Sondhi, former India national team head coach. This past week, coach Sondhi attended the Cascades’ Tuesday night practice prior to speaking at the Centre of Indo-Canadian Studies in Baker House.
“It was really good because in India he is a very highly respected coach,” coach Virdi commented. “He coached the national team for over 10 years, and to have someone like that on campus is good for our university and for himself. We kind of want to build a connection with India using wrestling, and bringing him onto campus was the first step.”
The men’s wrestling team consists of 10 members at varying weight classes and skill levels. However, almost all of them share something in common: an Indo-Canadian background. It seems this community is one that both coaches wish to tap into because of the popularity of wrestling back in India. Wrestling, along with cricket, draws incredible numbers of fans in India.
The Indo-Canadian community in the Fraser Valley also has many wrestling fans.
“It’s huge. I’d say about 80 per cent of wrestlers in the lower mainland are Indian,” Coach Virdi said.
Virdi and Bhullar appear to be looking to build on the ties that the Indo-Canadian community has with wrestling, both at UFV and in the greater Fraser Valley. Considering UFV’s established relationship with India and its campus in Chandigarh, coach Virdi said that he’s excited to continue building that international bond and to “see where we can go with it.”
The season ahead looks promising for the wrestling program as they finally get the opportunity to represent their school while building cultural ties at the same time.