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?


  1. I agree with 1 and 2 when taken out of context of the article, that is to make the game popular. I understand that you are "NOT" saying we need to look presentable and have good behavior just to make the sport popular. But saying that sports gets popular when we do that is wrong. I don't like that thought.When it comes to the third part, I quite frankly think none of the high level player must even think about talking to media.Sure, when they talk to us, be polite and concise just as we would when we talk to anyone for that matter.

    Let me tell you my point of view. I have had my fair share of competitive Table Tennis up until I was in Juniors (I used to play from Karnataka and if you asked Amal Raj or anyone from his generation who were top two players from Karnataka, I am sure my name would pop up). After Juniors, I stopped. Simple reason being, if I continued Table Tennis, I wouldn't have been able to shape up my career (professional and personal) the way I wanted to. Is it not the same reason why the best Indian play at that time, Chetan Baboor, just magically disappeared from the face of Indian Table Tennis? I was balancing studies and sports at a good rate (by which I mean scoring 85% over and staying competitive at the sport) and after Juniors, I hit a road block. I had to give up one to progress in the other. To me, the dream to hold a PhD or work for a top company as a hi-tech software engineer got more important and I had to focus on studies more. I was not the guy to settle for a good Manager post in a Bank or somewhere and be a National Champ. When it comes to having ambitions, the one which we hold dear wins.

    Now, why did I think holding a doctorate gave me more joy than being a national champ and pushing further? The answer is more complicated than one would guess but, to keep it short, the returns from the sport outweighed the benefits as time progressed. Few points I'd like to make -

    1. Prize moneys from tourneys were far less than what we'd spend actually playing a tourney. (A pair of rubbers, about a dozen TT balls, travel tickets to tourney place, lodging, missing schools etc when prize money was not nearly as enough). As a kid, this didn't matter much to me. I wasn't aware of how hard it was for my parents to make it happen (their time was a more factor than money). As I grew older, I started understanding these things and it just didn't seem fair.

    2. Introduce yourself as a sportsmen and they immediately ask "Do you play Cricket? Badminton?" and when I said "(shying away) Table Tennis" more often than not, I got looks which indicated they were not even aware such a sport existed. This, once again, was not important as a kid but as I grew up, the collective experiences of such sorts made me drift away from sports.

    There are other factors but not as important. Ok, I have said enough. The way I see it, there are few things that needs to change.

    1. Better tournaments and better prize moneys. Nothing makes (non Table Tennis) people go "wow" than a good prize money tournament.
    2. Advocating and spreading awareness about the (huge list of) benefits from this sports. For ex: Concentration, adaptibility, etc.
    3. Spreading awareness on how it is possible to balance sports and studies. Most parents fear that getting into sports makes it harder for them to study; opposite of which is true actually.
    4. Prominent sports person from other sports play Table Tennis. For example, Sachin's second fav sport is Table Tennis. He can do a lot more to promote than anyone else in this country!
    5. Better career options (Not sure about current scenarios but when from I was active, a desk job which literally anyone could secure is not a good "bargain" for the dedication and hardwork top sportsmen and women put in).

    The points you made are good but a sportsman shouldn't take making sports popular upon himself. His/hear heart must lie elsewhere, in my humblest opinion.

    1. Dear Karthik,
      Thanks a lot for your comment. I m glad u took time to read and express your views. I understand your anguish, because its true that unless you are at the top, u can't make a great career out of it. But the scenario is changing and many have got jobs in good PSUs. Thanks for your opinions about what should be done.
      And for my blog, for 1&2 I didn't mean that that alone will make it popular, but as the title of the article say, its just d basic things we as players must do which gives a positive image of the sport.

  2. Great write up. Honest, revelatory and simply intelligent. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks a lot Reney Wiess. :-) Looking fwd to your blogs now!!!