Zriqat laments state of wrestling in Jordan

(Photo: Handout from the Jordan Wrestling Federation)
AMMAN — According to the treasurer and manager of the Jordan Wrestling Federation committee, Saleh Zriqat, the fallout from the pandemic has greatly damaged the already “distressed sport” of wrestling in the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

In an interview with Jordan News, Zriqat said: “The pandemic has affected the sport so much that more than six championships have been canceled in the Kingdom and we can’t organize new local championships yet because of COVID, free wrestling and Roman wrestling is now ill-fated.” 

He added: “Major countries complain of a lack of interest and poor public followings, except for the US and Iran, but in Jordan and other countries there’s no demand or awareness of the game; people are interested in showbiz or heavy fighting.”

“But I confirm that one fight in our beautiful sport parallels the effort of a player running behind a ball in a field for 90 minutes.”

He said that wrestlers also need proper training facilities and wrestling requires a wide arena. 

Zriqat also spoke about the low interest in wrestling among Jordanian youth: “Our base is weak and limited and the class of players practicing in this sport in Jordan are from the working class; and we can call it a sport of the poor.

I have suggested that we attract eight national and foreign coaches, open eight centers for the advancement of the sport, and set up periodic competitions, but our budget of JD119,000 is not sufficient to meet the needs of national players.”

He added that it would not be practical to think that Jordan can make an Olympics or Asian championship “with a budget that is not enough to score an Arab medal.”

The last Asian medal Jordan won was in 2013 in India, by former player and current coach Yehya Abu Tabeekh, Zriqat said, adding that “to be fair, he was in love with the game, which has contributed greatly to his achievements in it.” 

Zriqat, Jordan’s first Arab gold medalist in the Arab Championship freestyle wrestling event held in Syria in 1990 — told Jordan News that there are currently no wrestlers that the Jordan Wrestling Federation can bet on.

However, he added: “Maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt saying that the pandemic has affected them or killed their motivation, especially since wrestling is a game of contact.”

He said: “COVID has set us back in preparing the players, but we want to increase the Arab standard. We cannot return to our normal situation unless the pandemic is gone and the health protocol has been lifted.

“I confirm that if we find two or three players in whom we can take a fight, we can compete with Arabs and Asians. Today we need not a number but a game-loving fighter.”

He said that he hopes Jordan Olympic Committee would be more supportive of individual federations. 

“The game of football took over and there are unions that feed themselves through special tournaments and subscription fees, I think with these humble possibilities, we’re not going to record any new achievements in wrestling,” he said, adding that the only success Jordan can expect to see is in participation, “not anything higher, and that means that we had succeeded touring-wise, but failed sports-wise.” 

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