A. Sharath Kamal, on the cusp of featuring in his fifth Asian Games, has stressed on the need for the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to appoint a high-performance director (HPD) and a full-time overseas national coach.
“HPD is the need of the hour at this time. There are a few posts that are the need of the hour. Coach, it’s been almost five years,” Sharath, the Chennai Lions captain for the Ultimate Table Tennis’ fourth edition, told Sportstar after securing a semifinal berth for his team.
With the TTFI being in turmoil on the administrative front for most of the last three years, a high-performance director can be the missing link for ensuring a smooth dialogue between the administration and the paddlers.
Ever since Massimo Constantini’s second stint ended in 2018, India has been without an overseas head coach.
“Of course, we are doing makeshift with the Indian coaches. Of course, Kamlesh sir (Kamlesh Mehta, the seven-times National champion who is the TTFI secretary general) is trying his level best to have Subhajit (Saha) and Mamata (Prabhu) as the national team coaches but they are doing an honorary job,” Sharath said.
Sharath, who celebrated his 41st birthday on the eve of UTT’s commencement, explained the boundaries involved from coaches’ and players’ perspective.
“Their involvement, their accountability, their responsibility and authority is limited, so it becomes very difficult. So a foreign coach and the HPD are a must. Not just national men and women coaches but also a panel of coaches that will work with the Indian team for the next three to four years.”
Having returned from the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta with two medals - India’s first in table tennis - Sharath feels the Asian Games in Hangzhou in September-October will be critical to get the additional funding for table tennis from the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
“Of course, Kamlesh sir is working in that direction, but we need to find a way out. We are in a situation where you need to have camps for 200 days (for SAI) to be able to pay them. So, we need to find a way to manage the situation and of course, the Asian Games becomes important from that perspective as well.”
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