In a major boost for wrestling in Nagaland, the state’s first ever formal institute to train youth was inaugurated at Thenyizumi village under Phek district on Tuesday.

The Thenyizu wrestling institute (TWI) is one of the 19 Khelo India Centres (KIC) approved by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports last year.

Home to two-time Nagaland wrestling champion Venuzo Dawhuo, Thenyizumi is located about 50 KM from Kohima town. The wrestling institute will focus on freestyle and belt wrestling, along with Naga wrestling.

While inaugurating the institute, Secretary of Youth Resources and Sports (YRS) Wezope Kenye encouraged the youth to take up sports not just as a hobby but pursue it as a profession if one is determined and passionate for the game.

He lauded the reigning Naga wrestling champ Venuzo Dawhuo for being a master of the sport, “who has proven his dedication, hard work and humility, and is setting new trends”. Kenye goes on to say that a sport is a powerful tool that can unite people.

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Expressing concern, the officer said that Nagas should do away with the dependence on the state government, and instead work hard to achieve their dreams.

While the indigenous Naga wrestling is the most popular style of wrestling in Nagaland and is played by three Naga tribes—Angami, Chakhesang and Zelinag, he hoped that with the introduction of the new wrestling institute, people across all districts will embrace the sport.

Sharing his experience, Venuzo Dawhuo recalled how a wrestling camp in 2013 changed his life as he was selected to participate in roman style and freestyle wrestling at national level.

“I participated at the national level for 4 times. What I have experienced in participating in the national games is that we do not lack stamina, tactics with our counterparts. The only limitation is that our participation is only event based and training is nearly absent, whereby we cannot compete with others,” he pointed out.

As a coach for the new institute, he expressed delight in getting the opportunity to pass on his skills to the young players. “The Institute has just begun with the support of the government of Nagaland and I look forward to your continued guidance and support to make this institute a centre for excellence,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Director of Youth Resources and Sports (YRS), Akumla Chuba, informed that the ministry has taken the initiative to set up 1,000 Khelo India Centre’s (KIC’s) in all the districts of the country where 19 was approved for the state. She said that the move was made to pave the way for the players from the state to enter to the national level.

During the inauguration ceremony, Chuba announced that Dawhuo will be the Ambassador for the Thenyizu Wrestling Institute. She added that the scheme provides a one-time grant of Rs 5,00,000 for renovation and purchase of sports equipment, along with Rs 2,00,000 for coach fees.

Further, she said that the Khelo India initiative is an important beginning for the development of sporting culture and sports excellence in India, with the aim to scout talents at the grassroots level by providing infrastructure.

President of the Chakhesang Wrestling Association (CWA), Ringa, exuded confidence that the new institute will give a push for the younger generation to achieve higher levels in the sport.

He also informed that to promote wrestling, the tribal wrestling body has made written appeals to all schools (government and private) in the Chakhesang areas to introduce wrestling as a sport during the schools’ annual sports meet.

The president also took the opportunity to appeal to the state government for early implementation of the ‘Nagaland State Sports Policy’.

As for Vezhoduyi Thisa, president of Chokri Area Wrestling Association (CAWA), he hoped that the Thenyizumi Wrestling Institute would emerge as an ‘Achiever Institute’ with vision, as he called all stakeholders to positively contribute towards the development of the institute.

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