Calcutta, May 10: The Centre for Excellence, which has been nurturing some of the state’s best table tennis talent at SAI, Salt Lake, for over two years, will henceforth be fielding a team of its own at the nationals.
This decision was taken at the Table Tennis Federation of India’s (TTFI’s) last general meeting in Delhi. It effectively means that two teams from the state will compete in all the national championships.
Those Centre for Excellence players who want to represent their office teams will, however, be released. “When their jobs are at stake, we can’t force them to play for the Centre,” a senior TTFI official told The Telegraph Saturday.
The rationale behind allowing a second team from the state to vie for honours at the nationa ls was that often some deserving players failed to get berths in the Bengal team. Citing an example, the official said last year Susovan Das was not included in the Bengal national cadet team.
“We sent him to the nationals under the SAI banner and he won the individual gold.”
BTTA smells a rat
The Bengal Table Tennis Association (BTTA), which has had anything but a harmonious relationship with the TTFI over the years, is of the opinion that this move is designed to weaken the Bengal team.
“Susovan Das wasn’t in the team because he was not among the top four according to ranking points. Since the difference is very little amongst the best, he won the title. This cannot be a reason to have two state teams,” a BTTA official argued.
He also made it clear the state association will do its best to stop this. “We will see how the Centre for Excellence sends its team to the nationals.”
The state body has not yet been officially notified on the issue by the TTFI.
“If they finally stick to such a decision, we will ensure that the state team will be selected first and then the Centre for Excellence can go ahead and select their team,” the BTTA official added.
The cadet and junior nationals are scheduled to be held in Chennai and Pondicherry in December. The likely venue for the senior national meet is Jammu.