Friday, January 17, 2014

Long live Indian Table Tennis

People who dont really play professional/serious table tennis are under an impression- 'ok whats the big deal? you just have to send this small white colored ball on the other side of this small table. well its so easy!'  But, uummm whatever. Ok guys we are doing serious business here. Table tennis is the worlds second fastest sport. It is a combination of speed, skill, tactics, reflexes, power, balance, consistency, eye-hand coordination and of course intelligence. India, since table tennis is not taken so seriously, we players are sick and tired of explaining this to the common man. Table tennis might be a relaxation or pass time for many, but for the 5000 odd serious table tennis players in India, its life. We breath it. Live it. Feel it. Because for a bunch of us, it defines us. Its who we are. Yes, for a change, we dont go play cricket after school, we go hit the table. For many, hitting the table is education, friendship, work and LIFE!

Table tennis in India might appear too shabby in front of cricket, tennis or in the recent times badminton, but for those who choose to pursue it as a career its been a blessing. Employment, for starters is what most of us are blessed with. We have well respected jobs in sectors like Petroleum, Railways, Airlines, Banks, Postal, Income Tax, Audit, Airports, to name a few. Our European counterparts are even jealous of us for this!

Our schools in India might not have a tennis court, a football field or skating rink, but 90% of them will surely have a Table Tennis table and kinds enjoying playing. It is the most popular indoor sport which almost every other kid knows how to play, for a laugh.

Our federation TTFI, is one of the most active and transparent sport bodies in India. We are regularly sent to take part in major international competitions. Not only seniors, but the youth, juniors, sub-junors and cadets are regular at the international arena. Thank you TTFI, for all you efforts.

And, we have Champions, Legends, Arjuna Awardees too! From Kamlesh Mehta,  Chetan Baboor and S.Raman in the 80s and 90s to A.Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh, A.Amalraj and Sanil Shetty in the new millennium. Amongst the ladies we have had Indu Puri, Niyati Shah, NR Indu in the past to Poulomi Ghatak, Mouma Das, K.Shamini and Ankita Das in the recent times. We can go on and on about their achievements in the international arena.

Sharath Kamal, the poster boy of Indian table tennis added another 'firsts' to his kitty by becoming the only Indian to play and win the world famous German Pokal

But amidst all this, life would have been better if we had good infrastructure. If we had good coaches many would be in safe hands. We have the talent, but we dont have the guidance to nurture it. We have the dedication but we dont have corporate babus sponsoring us, we dont have the funds. We have DD Sports giving live coverage, but never a private news channel. Print media writes about us, but only in rare small columns. Its actually funny that what a particular cricketer wore in a fashion show is a biiiig masala news than our kids winning medals in World Championships.

No, I am not complaining, i am just being hopeful that someone would read this, and positively react to it.

As table tennis players, we are happy and passionate. We are young and talented. We have the fire and the drive. Its only with time, that one day, we will also be the household heros. We are optimists. Someday, for sure, will be the Dhoni, the Sachin Tendulkar and the Saina Nehwal. Yes, one day. For sure.