Justice Gita Mittal (retired), chairperson of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the Delhi High Court to run the affairs of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), believes the committee has taken transparent and democratic steps to put the sport back on track in the country.

Speaking to Sportstar during the 83rd National Junior and Youth Table Tennis Championships, Mittal said the major achievement of the CoA in the last four months was that it was able to conduct all the three Nationals without proper budgeting and without any help from sponsors. She said it was done to facilitate the participation of the national team for the Commonwealth Games and other international events.

ALSO READ - Birmingham 2022: Sajan, Srihari to spearhead Indian swimming in CWG

The chairperson said the recent court cases and controversy over selection had affected the morale of the selected players and that the CoA was facing challenges to send the team for the Commonwealth Games.

‘Exaggerated weightage to domestic tournaments’

“The independent selection committee had recommended the names of the players to the CoA. But the existing ranking and selection criterion makes no provision for doubles teams. There is an exaggerated weightage given to domestic tournaments over international events. Doubles is an essential part of Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. We needed to identify the right pair.

‘We have introduced electronic draw of lots to avoid rigging and it was well received by players. It is good to know that we have implemented the parity on prize money in the 83rd junior nationals in Alappuzha. Further, I understand that the match officials are paid poorly and their remuneration needs to be increased.’ - Gita Mittal

“The selectors were in a conundrum as Archana Kamath has no points in the domestic circuit. She also didn't play doubles in the senior nationals and lost in the first round in singles. However, the selection committee recommended Archana as the doubles partner of Manika Batra for Commonwealth [Games] and wrote that it should be cleared by SAI. CoA wrote to SAI pointing out the reasons. SAI said it was the prerogative of the sports body to decide on its teams. Now it is unfortunate that the players have decided by themselves who is more meritorious. Four players went to court and it has put a lot of pressure on selected players who should actually be preparing for the matches,” she said.

Plans to institute national and regional academies

Commenting on some of the longer-term objectives, the chairperson said the aim was to ensure India’s good performance in the 2028 Olympics and the need to spread the game in tier two cities in the country. “We have plans to start a national table tennis academy on the same lines as the NCA. There would be regional academies for identifying and nurturing talents as well. We have also asked the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board to revive their academies,” she said.

“We have introduced electronic draw of lots to avoid rigging and it was well received by players. It is good to know that we have implemented the parity on prize money in the 83rd junior nationals in Alappuzha. Further, I understand that the match officials are paid poorly and their remuneration needs to be increased,” she said, talking about the other major steps taken by the CoA.

The committee, she said, didn’t intend on staying on for longer than necessary.

“The CoA has no intention on overstaying its welcome and will leave after completing the task as directed by the Honourable Delhi High Court.”