Indian table tennis players have been playing without a head coach since September 2018. According to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), secretary-general, Mr MP Singh, former head coach Massimo Costantini did not inform the federation after he departed suddenly keeping the head coach’s position vacant.
Costantini is currently associated with the International Table Tennis Federation. Singh said that after the 2018 Asian Games, Constantini had not communicated anything with regards to leaving the position.
In the light of Indian paddlers failing to qualify for the team event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the federation has taken a collective decision to hire a head coach on a four-year cycle. “Most teams employ coaches for a four-year Olympic cycle. So when he suddenly left, we had only limited options to choose from and even that did not work out for us,” general secretary MP Singh said to the media recently.
“Going forward, we have decided to hire a coach for four years instead of renewing his contract every year. We have also got the sports ministry’s approval for that,” Singh added.
The 2019 TTFI general elections did not yield much and the appointment of Canadian coach Dejan Papic could not materialise as he had to undergo a surgery. The above two circumstances also led to the delay of the appointment of a new full-time head coach.
Irrespective of the circumstance the Indian paddlers have been constantly doing well at the international circuit with some commendable performances under their name. India’s 60-year wait finally came to end at the Commonwealth Games when Manika Batra bagged four medals including two gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Sharath Kamal, Ganesh Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai have entered the top 100 in the men’s ranking. All this is a positive sign for table tennis in India.
“I am confident that by next month, we would have zeroed in on the coach (on side-lines of World Championships). The women’s team narrowly missed out on an Olympic berth but played well. However, the men’s team, which should have qualified, crumbled under pressure,” said Singh to the media. The Indian players have it in them to make it big, the focus now shifts to the singles Olympic qualifying event which is slated to begin from April 2020.