State hands out plum Class I jobs to top sportspersons

Olympian Narsingh Yadav, World Cup winner Pankaj Shirsat appointed DySP.

Andhra Pradesh a decade ago, Haryana in the last five years and Punjab for the last 50 -- these states, flush with funds to spare for sports, have been the envy of many sportspersons from Maharashtra for all these decades. But earlier this month, the state government offered its first set of Class 1 appointments to deserving sportspersons, raising the incentive stakes in Maharashtra for those willing to pursue sport seriously and chasing excellence.

2010 Commonwealth Games wrestling gold medallist Narsingh Yadav and Pankaj Shirsat, a kabaddi World Cup champion and twice Asian gold medal winner, have been inducted as deputy Superintendent of Police in the first-ever such appointments of officer class made by the Maharashtra government for sportspeople.

A policy change that was first considered way back in 2009-10 when Ashok Chavan was the Chief Minister, this crucial decision took time to come into effect and both Shirsat and Yadav will head to Nasik for their first training stints in what is the starting rung of the officer category in IPS in April. "It's a very big step in terms of government support in Maharashtra. This will ensure that sportspeople can now pursue their games without worrying about the future and focus on sport. It's also a very respectable post and my family's very happy that my sport has fetched me this appointment," Yadav, an Olympian, said. "It's not just financial security in terms of a salary. Wrestlers ned to bear a lot of expenses for their daily diet, so now that will be taken care of. States like Punjab and Haryana and Delhi were very supportive in this, but now it's great that Maharashtra has also started considering athletic achievements in Class 1 jobs," says the Jogeshwari resident, who honed his wrestling at Mumbai's Kandivali SAI centre.

"It'll also be an incentive to achieve bigger things in sport, and I'm looking forward to my training in Nasik which will be as demanding as my regular practice for the sport," Yadav added. Narsingh, who fought in the 74 kg at London, participated in his first ever International Wrestling Championship at the Andheri Sports Complex, awhere he got the better of Pata Bakyuredze of Azerbaijan, and is looking forward to the season where he will first turn out at the Asian Championships in Delhi. "The atmosphere was great and I loved the Andheri crowd that got behind me and helped me win. But my focus is on the international events now, and I'll check my fitness and take a call on what weight category I should contest in. But this is a good boost to my career," he added. The beefy wrestler can now look forward to building a better home for his family and is also keen on driving a Tata Safari of his own.

Another sportsman to benefit from this was kabaddi player Pankaj Shirsat whose was the first file to come in for consideration after he won the World Cup in 2007. "Class 1 appointments are as per availability of post and though it took close to 3 and half years for this to come through, I'm glad it's started in the state," says the Arjuna awardee.

"My father wanted me to get to this post after studies. But the family is happy that I reached here on virtue of my sport," Shirsat says of what is a big upgrade on the Class IV clerical jobs that sportspersons used to be offered till now.

Others who have been appointed in the first batch are kabaddi player Nitin Ghule as Superintendent of State Excise, as well as Snehal Salunkhe and former junior rifle world championship medallist Navnath Fartade who have been appointed as District Sports Officers.

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