Editor’s note: The Cascades wrestling program is sending head coach Raj Virdi and six athletes to Chandigarh, India from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4. This page contains updates passed along by Coach Virdi, along with social media highlights and mainstream media coverage. The most recent updates are at the top.
Sunday, Dec. 3: Touring Panjab University
Coach Virdi: We woke up early and had matches this morning. Then the head wrestling coach of Panjab University invited the team to his house for lunch. After lunch the coach was very kind to give the entire team some nice sweatshirts, and took us for a tour of their campus. We are planning on having a big tournament there next year so we wanted to check out the facilities. The facilities were great and it looks like there is enough space to run a big event.
After the tour we came back to the hotel to rest before evening practice. We had dinner at a great restaurant called BBQ Nation. We ate so much that we were basically sleeping in the restaurant.
Great trip, we all will definitely miss India. Until next time!
Saturday, Dec. 2: Anandpur Sahib and Virasat-e-Khalsa
Coach Virdi: We woke up at 6 a.m. today and had a two-hour drive to Anandpur Sahib (which means city of bliss) today. The city is one of the most sacred places in Sikhism – it was where the last two Sikh gurus lived and where Guru Gobind Singh founded Khalsa Panth (Sikh religion) in 1699.
We also went and saw the Virasat-e-Khalsa (Sikh museum). The museum was a lot of fun and everyone had a great time learning about Sikhism and the history of India when the British ruled. It was neat to see such great architecture in the middle of nowhere.
After having lunch at Havali, we had some time to relax before we headed off to practice. We had one hour of matches and climbed a whole bunch of ropes. Everyone is sore and tired so we decided to take it easy tonight and have dinner at the hotel and do some studying for our finals when we get back.
We are back on the mats at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Friday, Dec. 1: Rock Garden, and traditional wrestling
Coach Virdi: Great time the last two days. We went and saw Rock Garden which is an amazing place with great architecture and waterfalls. Then we had practice at Gulzar Wrestling Akhara.
Everyone wanted to eat something different today, and McDonald’s and Burger King were on the top of their list.
Today we had a morning practice — we played some Indian-style basketball and learned some very interesting wrestling moves I have never seen before. A lot to learn in such a short period of time.
Later we went to wrestle in a forest where they have created an akhara (wrestling gym). Everyone was so amazed to see you don’t need much in basic necessities to become a great wrestler. Each of our athletes had full 15- to 30-minute matches in the dirt, which is ancient traditional Indian wrestling. Everyone loved it and gained a new appreciation for the sport of wrestling and where it comes from.
All I can say is, what an experience for these guys. Looking forward to Day 7. We are waking up at 6 a.m. to travel to go see one of India’s most popular temples, Anandpur Sahib.
Thursday, Nov. 30: Touring the UFV campus
Coach Virdi: Long day today. We had practice at 9 a.m. with the senior team which went great. Everyone wrestled hard and learned lots. After practice we went to UFV Chandigarh, and Gurneet Anand (director of UFV’s Chandigarh campus) hosted the team and gave us a great tour of the campus. We then had lunch and looked at the rest of the campus. Gurneet and his team have been so welcoming it doesn’t even feel like we are in India.
We then had practice again at 4 p.m. with the Panjab University wrestling team and some wrestlers who represent India internationally.
We now are going to watch Dangal, one of the highest grossing movies of all time in India, and have dinner. The movie is about two female wrestlers and the hardships they faced being a female wrestlers in India, and their struggle to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Wednesday, Nov. 29: Cascades wrestling program featured in The Province
The UFV wrestlers’ trip to India has garnered coverage from The Province newspaper, with reporting from E. Spencer Kyte.
“This is something no institution in Canada can offer,” Cascades assistant coach Arjan Bhullar told Kyte. “No other institution has a campus in India, in a country where wrestling is so big. It is a huge benefit that we have not overlooked, and we are going to leverage this as much as we can in terms of recruiting.
“We selected our top kids with potential to have success not just at the university level, but at the national level — to represent their country beyond university. We wanted them to get a taste of what it’s like to be a full-time athlete and to potentially represent your country by travelling internationally.”
The full article can be accessed via the link in the Tweet below.
Canadians kids visiting their campus in India. Wrestling with their Indian friends. Learning about the culture and history of the sport. Making a positive impact on the locals. It’s all finally happening! Thanks for the write up brother @spencerkyte https://t.co/itfwmJiXSJ pic.twitter.com/aOMBQZYUOJ
— Arjan Singh Bhullar (@TheOneASB) November 29, 2017
Tuesday, Nov. 28: Arriving in Chandigarh
Coach Virdi: We had a five-hour drive from Delhi to Chandigarh – a nice drive with lots to see. Had a chance to stop at the famous Havali restaurant on the way for some authentic Indian food.
We got to Chandigarh about three hours ago and met the coach at Panjab University and set up the training schedule for the week. We got a quick practice in today. The team just showered up and are having dinner with Gurneet Anand (director of UFV’s Chandigarh campus) at 8 p.m. Everyone is loving the culture and the experience.
Monday, Nov. 27: Cascades arrive in Delhi
Coach Virdi: Just landed in Delhi – it was a long trip but we finally made it. We had an awesome driver come pick us up and take us to the most beautiful hotel I ever been too in India, Radisson Blu… and I have been here several times.
Everyone is doing well and the traffic here is just insane. The entire 45-minute drive from the airport to the hotel, the athletes couldn’t stop looking out the window.
People are nice and the food at the hotel was unbelievable. We depart to Chandigarh tomorrow to meet Gurneet Anand and the staff at the UFV campus. They are holding a dinner for the team tomorrow afternoon. We also are meeting Coach Sondhi to get all the wrestling practices in order.
Sunday, Nov. 26: Cascades land in Shanghai
Coach Virdi: Our flight was good – very long. Brad Hildenbrandt loved the plane food (heavyweights will eat anything). We landed in Shanghai today and went to go sightseeing downtown. We saw the Pearl Tower today and ate at a great Chinese restaurant. It was Karan’s first time having Chinese food… best place to have it! He wanted to go to a very famous Chinese market but it was closed by the time we got there. We are now resting at the hotel until our 2 p.m. departure to Delhi.
Global BC News: UFV wrestling team is among Canada’s best
Jay Janower of Global BC News was on campus last week to put together a feature on the Cascades’ trip to India. Check it out below!
Press release: Cascades wrestlers primed for trip to India
Members of the University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program are embarking on the trip of a lifetime this week, as they travel to India.
Head coach Raj Virdi is taking six Cascades wrestlers with him on the trip – Brad Hildenbrandt, Karla Godinez Gonzalez, Amtoj Dhaliwal, Karan Dhillon, Jacob Torres and Parker McBride. They departed on Saturday, Nov. 25, and return to Canada on Monday, Dec. 4.
Their time in India will largely be spent in the city of Chandigarh, where UFV has had a campus since 2006. In addition to spending time at the UFV facility, they will train at Panjab University and visit local wrestling clubs with former India national team head coach PR Sondhi. Sondhi spent time with the Cascades in Abbotsford back in September 2014.
“It’s an amazing to go across the world and take a group like this with you,” Virdi enthused. “It’s sports diplomacy – we’re representing Canada and representing UFV. It’s exciting, because it’s completely different – the atmosphere, the culture, and how they train for wrestling. Over there, they train all day long, with multiple sessions each day. It’s more of a professional sport over there, and how they approach wrestling is completely different. It’ll be a good experience for our athletes.”
The Cascades wrestling program is in its fourth season of Canada West / U SPORTS competition, and the men’s team is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation. Hildenbrandt made some history for the UFV athletic department last spring, winning the Cascades’ first-ever U SPORTS gold medal.
UFV India delivers its internationally recognized programs at the 16.5-acre campus of GGD SD College (SDCC), in Chandigarh, a city of about 1 million in the Punjab region. Programs offered include: Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Computer Information System, and Management Post Baccalaureate Certificate. UFV India students can transfer to UFV Canada in years 2, 3 or 4. The Chandigarh campus celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2016.