Sunday, October 26, 2014


Ever wondered how some players are able to beat the ones who are much higher ranked than them? They might not be as experienced as the other, sometimes not even stronger than the other, yet they do the impossible. 

 In the just concluded Men’s world cup, Aruna Quadri from Nigeria who is the current world no.73 beat world no.27 Kenta Matsudaira from Japan, world no.37 Shibaev Alexander from Russia and World no.16 Tang Peng from HongKong.  How did he do this? Of course he’s playing the best table tennis of his life at this point, but what’s that one quality that makes him beat these top ranked players?


Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha beat Ma Lin and Zhang Jike from China in Men Doubles round of 32 in the 2012 Asian Championship. How did they do this?

Again, it’s the clichéd SELF BELIEF.

In matches when we have to play against a higher ranked opponent, many a times we pay too much attention to the past records and rankings. Agree or no, most of us do. And that is the culprit. Rankings and records are just numbers. Because when you step inside the court, the game starts with love all. Both have an equal probability to win. But in your mind, if you give too much importance to the rankings and give enormous respect to the opponent (more than what is required) you have lost already even before starting the game. If you have worked really hard, but you fail to believe in yourself, you will waste all the effort you had made.

I truly believe that it doesn’t matter if you are up against the no.1 player in your district, state, country or the entire world,you must have the belief that you are going to win. Go to the match as a winner. To beat your opponent, regardless of his/her ranking. You first need to have that positive attitude, and then believe in yourself that you can really do it.

Look around yourself, maybe you too did something similar in the past, then what’s stopping you to do it all over again? The answer lies within you!

Many times even the coaches fail to show their confidence in their student. That’s really upsetting. When we are drawn up against any Chinese, or Korean or a Japanese, generally the player is told that “Oh it’s a tough match, so just go enjoy or just give your best”. Well of course we need to enjoy and give in our best, but what is most important is to show the belief that the player will win. It certainly makes a huge difference.

Table tennis is a short game. During the proceedings of the game you never know, one or two good shots from your side, one or two edge balls, an off day for the opponent and he/she is under pressure. 
Sport is beautiful. It gives equal opportunity to each and every player irrespective of his/ her ranking, country, religion, colour, or whatever bias one can think of.

Why not seize the opportunity?

Believe in yourself, you never know, you end up surprising yourself and that’s when miracles happen and that’s how history is created.

Monday, October 13, 2014


As the Central Zone held at Indore ended, I kept wondering about the beauty of sport. Everyone has a scope of getting a 100 % in any exam, but in sport, there is only ONE winner. Yes, 1.2 billion people, but only one winner. That’s a bit cruel isn’t it? All those who took part had an eye on the title, but alas, only one can win. And that’s why sport is different. And this tournament made it much more exciting because there were winners who silenced the critics and won in style.

And how does it feel when one wins after a long long time?

 8 years!!! Devesh Karia. Hats off to his commitment.  This is his first Men’s singles title. No, I cannot imagine how happy and satisfied he must be. Not only did he win, he also won in style. He beat the reigning National Champion Sanil Shetty in semi finals and Inter Institution winner G.Sathiyan in the finals.  How did he do this? Well, of course Devesh can answer this best. But here’s what I feel. Passion, Commitment, Dedication, Hard work and the Zeal. “It feels amazing to have won this, I still cant believe I did it” exclaimed  Devesh.  He is posted in Bhavnagar (Gujarat), as an Income Tax Inspector and is married to Kanchan Thakkar. Although training facilities there are nowhere near to what he had in PSPB Academy, Ajmer where he trained for 10 years, yet, he battled all odds to make it happen. He has shown that one cannot always get the best of the facilities, but champions make the best out of what is available. Take a bow dear friend. 

Mouma Das, after 3 long years the Women Singles Winner! Last winning in 2011, this was definitely a special one for her. Missing out on the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year, she had a point to prove. Look at her journey to the title: She beat Manika Batra in Pre quarters, Poulomi Ghatak in Quarters, Ankita Das in the Semi finals and Pooja Sahasrabudhe in the Finals. 60% of the team that went for the CWG 2014!  Hats off to you Mouma. How did she do this? We have been training together in the National training camps in Patiala since January this year. She’s one player, with whom it’s super fun to practice with. She fights for each and every point and makes you run for your life. Making a comeback demands huge amount of hard-work, self belief, dedication and discipline.” I never took a session off for 2 weeks!” revealed Mouma. That’s what champions are made of. Big salute to you!

Mallika Bhandarkar, after 3 challenging years, won the Youth girls title. The magical girl from Nagpur, who had an almost 90% win in her cadets and sub juniors days, and also a successful junior career, struggled to make her mark in the U-21 category. I am sure that this win,after Bolpur in 2011, was very sweet. Even better, because she beat the top ones in the youth section en-route the title: Reeth Rishya in Semis finals and Manika Batra in the finals. “I stopped believing in myself, and there was a point when I was just not winning. This win is something different, it was definitely a long wait.” confessed Mallika. She has been struggling with her shoulder injury for the last 2 years which forced her to stay away from the game for almost 6 months earlier this year. Loosing about 38 kgs of bodyweight within a period of 1.7 years, she stood proud at the podium. When tears of joy roll down your eyes, you know it’s different. The nation is proud of you!

These are examples of perseverance, hard-work, dedication, passion and commitment. 

But the question here is, will they be able to continue the winning streak?

Good luck to all playing in Gandhidham this week!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


So imagine this situation: You switch on the television, you are swapping through the channels and to your surprise, they are showing table tennis. Excited, you immediately take your seat on your most comfortable couch and watch passionately. So what are the first few things you notice? Who’s playing, what tournament it is, what’s the score, and of course how the players look! Deny that, but yes, everyone does notice that. And if that spectator is not from the table tennis family, he/she would rather change the channel than watch paddlers lazily struggling to reach the other end of the table carrying huge weight on the tummy in ill-fitted attire.
Table Tennis is not widely shown on television, but when it is, isn’t it our responsibility to portray a good image of our sport to the world? Sadly, we are not working on this. We do take the liberty to blame the media that it ignores our sport, but what are we doing as players to increase the popularity of our sport which is so beautiful?

Interestingly, during the Commonwealth Games in July 2014, all the important matches were telecasted on Ten Sports. DD Sport covers most of our National Ranking tournaments. The National Championship is shown live all 7 days!

Now, ask yourself, the same question.

As players, I feel it’s our duty to sell our sport in a positive way.

Here’s what we can work on:


This one is quiet self explanatory. Nobody would like to watch two people playing, but not fighting hard enough to win a point. It does not matter if you are playing in seniors or juniors or sub juniors, its fun to watch the game when both the players are fighting their nerves out to win each and every point. The killer eyes, the pumping fists, the body language of a warrior and the ‘fighting till the end attitude’ is what is expected out of a sportsperson. Sad and dull behaviour is not at all interesting to watch. Well, I don’t mean drama here, but don’t we love the way Sharath Kamal fights with a killer attitude for each and every point? Amalraj’s epic jump after winning the semis finals of men's doubles in the CWG 2014 has made him famous all over. It was an involuntary act, not planned at all, but his picture was posted all over social media and in all the major newspapers the next two days. Well, this topic is quiet sensitive as how one behaves on the table is one's personal choice. Some like to show, some don’t. But majorly, a positive and aggressive body language brings in some interest and excitement for the audience too. You must be able to engage the audience. It’s no fun to play if there is nobody to watch. Nobody likes empty galleries. Isn’t it? For the just concluded National Ranking Championship held in Indore, DD Sports telecasted the finals live. It was so interesting to watch both Mouma Das and S.Pooja fight hard for each and every point. Mouma is a silent one, but Pooja is expressive. Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. That’s the beauty of on the table behaviour. And that’s how we can engage the audience and do our bit to promote the sport we love so dearly.




We as Indians have improved on our technique, tactically we are good, and we are hard workers, then why are we still not able to compete with the best in the world? It’s because of the Physical Fitness level. Yes, we have ignored this aspect of the game since a long time now. It is hampering our personal development as a player on one hand, and the image of the game on the other. Why do I say the image of the game? Well its sport what we are doing, and the basic requirement to play any sport is to be physically fit. Nobody would appreciate tyres coming out from the sides; everyone goes mad over six packs. All racquet sports demand high fitness levels. When tennis, badminton and squash can do it, then why not table tennis? I felt the difference when I was at the Asian Games, and frankly, we are nowhere near them. Sportspersons are all beautiful looking people. No I don’t mean the colour of the skin or a pretty face, but it’s the glow on their faces and the beautiful bodies they posses, which I personally feel is an asset. Being physically fit increases your confidence. And of course, when you are not struggling to move from one end to the other, you naturally rise above all. And then it’s fun for the spectator too. I don’t mean work for somebody else, but all I want to convey is that work for yourself and your sport and you will feel the difference. I did, I am 6 kgs lighter than last year, I feel confident, I m moving well on the table and of course, the compliments! Who dosent like them?
Another important aspect of on the table look is the choice of clothing. Ill fitted clothes don’t give a positive image to the world. Invest in it if you can. Experiment with colours, and a little bit of fashion here and there dosent hurt. Especially for girls, try skirts. They are comfortable and they look great! (It’s my personal experience, I feel much more confident after losing weight and switching to skirts). Again this is a personal choice and depends on what one is comfortable in, but I am just sharing my own views. But look good and bring in some glamour. I’d like to tell you all, that all the major clubs in Europe demand the girls to wear skirts for the league matches. This is just one of the marketing strategies they have adopted which is working well.
We can debate on this for hours together. But then, Saina Nehwal is often spotted in shorts and Sania Mirza always in skirts, yet both look equally amazing while playing. It’s the on the court look. Saina is super fit and Sania is super hot!


Well, it’s sad and true that our events are not as widely covered in the print and electronic media as we expect them to be. But when the National tournaments are conducted in smaller cities, I have often experienced that the print media surely covers table tennis. Also, in a few major cities like Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Indore, etc even the district and state tournaments are widely covered by the media. We must appreciate the State Associations for making a good effort. The TTFI has also been working on this lately and there is surely a positive change now. But again, as players, are we doing our bit? When the media comes to talk to us, regardless of what newspaper or news channel it is, we must be able to talk to them properly. We must entertain them and should be able to convey our thoughts and views clearly. There is no room for any hesitation. I don’t mean use superficial English. I love the way the wrestlers from Haryana talk so well in Hindi. It’s not about the language; it’s about your ability to express. It’s sad but true that even our top players who have frequent interaction with the media are unable to do it properly. We must, therefore, as players make a conscious effort to elevate the level of the game during our personal and social interactions. As times are changing so must our tools of promotion. It’s our duty to sell our sport whenever and wherever we get an opportunity to do so.

Table Tennis is a beautiful game and is widely played in India. It has given so much to each one of us. It’s our duty to promote our game. We must feel that responsibility. And it’s not the top 20-30 players I am talking to, it’s an appeal to the entire table tennis fraternity of India.

Understand. Relate. Introspect. Act. If not now, then when?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An emotional sendoff for the Asian Games

ज़िंदगी का बहुत बड़ा सच है,
की लड़कियाँ किसी को नही पसंद है.
जब पैदा होती है तभी से उनकी रक्षा की सोच बनती है,
उनकी सारी काबिलियत इसी सोच से छनती है.

पर आपने इस सोच को बदल दिया,
अपनी काबिलियत से कुछ नया किया.
इतनी ट्रोफी और मेडल देख कर,
सबके मूह बँध हो गये.
आपको आगे बदते देख बाहरवाले क्या, घरवाले भी दंग हो गये,

जब शादी करके आई थी तो
पता नही था आप इतनी बड़ी हस्ती हो,
पर धीरे धीरे पता चल की
पढ़ाई, खेल और घूमने में कितना .फस्ति हो.

आपने खेलों के लिए सब कुछ नियोछावार कर दिया,
अपना बचपन, लड़कपन, सब अपने को प्रूव करने में लगा दिया.
और यही जीवन की सच्चाई है,
की आपने बहुत नाम, इज़्ज़त कमाई है,

माना कई लड़कियों ने अपना बचपन जिया,
पर उन्होने ज़िंदगी में कुछ नही किया.

मैं भी उनमे से ही एक हू पर,
चाहती हू मेरी बेटियाँ आपकी तरह कुछ बने,
औरों के लिए नही पर ,
अपने लिए,अपनी ज़िंदगी के लिए कुछ अलग नये सपने चुने,

आप एक रोल मॉडेल हो सबके लिए,
जो बताते है की ज़िंदगी कैसे जिए,

सोच बदलो, विश्‍वास रखो,
हम भी कम नही,
यह अहसास रखो.