Yashpal Solanki has been a fighter all through his career, both as a Judo Player and now as the National Coach. And that fighting spirit became his lifestyle when he came into Judo world.
If Commonwealth Judo Championship 2008 Silver medal, Gold & Silver both at Commonwealth Judo Championship 2010, Gold at South Asian Games 2011 are his international achievements, you can’t forget that he has won our National Championship for Seventeen Consecutive Years.
An Arjuna Awardee in 2012, he is devoting his time in nurturing the young players as the coach to the India senior team. We talked to him on his initial struggles and how Judo can be promoted. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Judo in a Cricket crazy nation…
I know and agree with you that in our country media, politicians, public everyone is crazy about cricket. But at the same time players like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Saina Nehwal, Vijender Singh, Krishna Poonia are coming up with world class performances and then they are getting recognition. They are as famous as some of the cricketers now. So, other sports are becoming famous too. Now, India is in the way to a true world class sporting Nation.
Judo, when & how?
Since the beginning, I always wanted to be a self-dependent, physically fit & mentally strong gentleman. Judo fulfilled all my desires and made me what I always wanted to be.
Coaching standards in India…
Technically, we are lacking in sports sciences, equipment, infrastructure required to compete at international events. Especially at grass root level, these aspects are saddening. A player starts getting these scientific support and world class latest training at National camps. And I strongly recommend adding these to the junior & sub- junior levels or better to have these at schools. (See more from Judo here)
Coaching standards compared to earlier…
Coaching standard has improved drastically from my time primarily because our coaches never played in international events.
Now coaches are international players themselves and they can guide current players through with their international exposure. They are capable to lift standards of Judo to the Olympic level, if supported properly by Judo Federation of India and SAI.
Judo development in India…
India is full of talented sportsperson. They can feed all sports but, as I mentioned earlier, they need to be polished from the beginning with latest technologies. Junior level Judo players in India are full of talent and their energy should be channelized by proper guidance and financial support.
Training facilities in India…
Training facilities are improving but still not up to mark, especially if we compare with the countries which are winning Olympic medals regularly.
For example Judo is selected as priority sport for 2020 Olympics; still, we don’t have a single Judo training hall in India to train our national Judo team. We are lagging behind in Judo- specific equipment & internationally approved judo dresses etc. So you can easily imagine about facilities which are available at junior level.
Judo promotion at basic/school level?
We need to start training judo to players at the age of 10-12 and start academies with all basic facilities in all states or zones.
Judo promotion to the masses…
We need to bring in financial support and create jobs to increase mass participation in judo, rest, same as I suggested in last answer.
Yes League formats like “Indian Combat Sports League” or “Indian Judo League” will help promote Judo and other Combat Sports like these did in other powerful combat sports Nations (France, England, and Germany).
These countries have a very strong club culture with prize money events to promote combat sports. In addition, these leagues will bring funds & necessary infrastructure to help the sport.