Sharath Kamal credits European stint for career upswing

Sharath Kamal said playing in the top division clubs in Germany saw his career reach an upswing, after he experienced a mild slump in 2011-12.

By playing in Europe, Kamal said there was an overall development in his game.   -  K. Pichumani

India’s top-ranked paddler Sharath Kamal said his training in Germany with four different clubs in the top division of the Bundesliga league from 2010-16 was the best phase of his career as his ranking and game improved.

Speaking to coaches from Sports Authority of India and the Table Tennis Federation of India panel on Saturday in the ‘Online Coach Development Programme (through the Zoom app) where he shared his experiences of playing in the European circuit, the 37-year-old said playing in the top division clubs in Germany saw his career reach an upswing [after a mild slump in 2011-12]. “I stayed in Germany and came to India only for a few National tournaments. At that time, my graph went up and having played in Europe [in Sweden, Spain and Germany], there was an overall development in my game,” Sharath said.

Sharath Kamal leapfrogs G. Sathiyan in ITTF rankings, occupies 31st spot  

According to the 2006 Commonwealth Games singles champion, the best part of the European clubs was that they treat each player of the club fairly. “The coaches are very professional. They treat everyone as equals. They didn’t see me as one who is training here and [then going on] to beat them. In Europe, if they hire a player, they ensure he improves as much as his countrymen,” he said.

Explaining the differences between India and Europe in training, planning and preparation, Sharath said everything is systematic [in Europe]. “Our season starts at the end of July and ends in September whereas they have round the year competition in different divisions. There is constant match practice, you get to play with different players with different styles. The infrastructure and ecosystem are top-class. And their calendar is out much in advance,” he said.

In India, things started to change only after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said Sharath, ranked 31 in the world now. “It all became professional in 2008 in the field of sports for us when a lot of people [support staff] started working for an athlete,” said Sharath.

For young Indian coaches to reach world standards, Sharath insisted that whatever access players get when it comes to opportunities in training, development and exposure, the same should be offered to Indian coaches only then can the country have a plethora of quality coaches. “We have the talent but not the right exposure. What Indian players get, the same thing should happen to [our] coaches,” he said.

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