Big-time contest for home talents

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 9.09.07

Guwahati, Sept. 9: They may have very little chance of winning, but the next edition of the India Cup promises to give budding table tennis players of the region the opportunity to test themselves against the best.

One player each from all the northeastern states will take on top paddlers from across the country at the U. Tirot Sing Stadium in Shillong when the elite table tennis tournament begins on October 9.

Speaking to the media, Meghalaya education and information technology minister R.G. Lyngdoh — also the president of the North East Table Tennis Forum — said the top 10 seeds in the men’s and women’s categories would be joined by a player from each of the northeastern states and Sikkim, besides a few wildcard entries.

Lyngdoh said this was the first time that the Table Tennis Federation of India had allowed every state of the region to be represented in the India Cup.

The forum will host the tournament with the dual objectives of popularising the sport in the region, once the cradle of talent, and raising funds.

Naming a few probable participants in the three-day event, organising secretary Chiranjib Choudhuri said Sharat Kamal, Subhadip Saha, Anirban Nandi, Paulomi Ghatak, Mouma Das and Nandita Saha were almost certain to take part.

“The final list of players will be available only a few days before the meet because there is another national ranking tournament scheduled before it,” he said.

This is the second time that the India Cup will be held in the Northeast. The earlier occasion was in 1995, when it was hosted by the Assam Table Tennis Association in Dibrugarh.

The meet will be the second major tournament to be hosted by the forum.

Founded in 1993, the forum had organised the junior nationals in Shillong last year.

“The success of hosting the junior nationals encouraged us to go for a bigger event,” Lyngdoh said.

“The sport does not require a heavy physical build as in the case of many other sports. It only needs talent, which is quite abundant in our region. A little bit of inspiration from the star players can help popularise the sport,” he added.

The minister also announced the forum’s plan to organise training camps under leading coaches. Also on the drawing board is a table tennis academy in one of the states of the region.

The forum was revamped recentlywith Arjuna awardee and former national table tennis champion Monalisa Baruah Mehta taking interest in it.

Lyngdoh said the purpose of raising funds through the India Cup was to create a resource pool to organise coaching camps, recruit quality coaches and run the proposed academy. “The sky is the limit if we talk about a target when it comes to raising funds, because we have embarked on a mission to develop the sport,” the minister said.

Corporate houses have been approached for sponsorship. The budget for the India Cup is around Rs 15 lakh, including prize money of Rs 3 lakh.

“The Assam government has committed financial support to the tournament as well as the academy,” Choudhuri said.