He’s suave, computer-savvy, an expert in making table tennis draws and schedules. Essentially, a man who knows the math of refereeing like the back of his hand.
Most of all, he works in the background, ensuring the show goes on without a major hiccup.
When N. Ganeshan, Competition Manager of the ongoing Avadh-20th Commnonwealth table tennis championships here, was recently appointed as a deputy referee for the World team championship to be held in Kuala Lumpur from February 28 to March 6, it was seen as a reward for all the hard-work and meticulous job done by the 54-year-old in ensuring the draw process is as transparent as possible in most of the tournaments he has done duty.
“Yes, it’s a prestigious honour. Your calibre as a referee is being recognised,” he said. He is the third Indian referee after A.M. Lele and C.R. Kelekar to be appointed as a referee in a World championship.
Working as a chief referee in several National championships, junior, sub-junior and seniors, it was the concept of Competition Manager that caught Ganeshan’s attention. “I was the chief referee then. The ITTF junior and cadet circuit was in Kolkata in 2006. At that time, the Competition Manager was a new post. It was Raul Calin of Spain who held that position. I was impressed with his role. It was not just focussing on draw and schedule, it involves taking care of the live telecast, and the needs of the sponsor at the venue. It was more challenging,” revealed Ganeshan.
After being impressed with Ganeshan, Calin gave him an opportunity as a Competition Manager for the ITTF Canada junior & cadet Open in 2009. “I was like a fish out of water initially. But I learnt quickly,” he said.
Six years have gone by and the 54-year-old has more or less mastered the art of scheduling and given it a new dimension that has reshaped the contours of scheduling matches; proof of it is the TTFI website. “So much has changed now. As you can see the database in the last two years has improved. So has the presentation. Still there is some work to do,” he said. “We are working on Result Management System online. It will be implemented within a year.”
Ganeshan credited Dhanraj Choudhary, Secretary, Table Tennis Federation of India, a technical official himself, for his knowledge of refereeing and having been an inspiration for him.
Ganeshan is of the opinion that not many referees are taking up the profession even though there are more opportunities for the officials. “The future is bleak. We haven’t found any good referee coming up. It has become a full-time job. Now there are 17 blue badge umpires and around seven National referees in India. We are in the hunt, though,” he said.
After covering more than 100 National and International tournaments in India and abroad, Ganeshan said he gets immense satisfaction on the last day of a championship, when he realises that everything has gone largely according to plan. “It is like how a mason feels after completing a building, how a painter feels when he completes a painting and how a sculptor feels when he has completed his art.”