The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) has reached out to the country’s top paddlers again for their approval to organise a 10-day training camp in June. The federation emailed the players on Tuesday, sharing details of how it plans to conduct the camp.
M. P. Singh, secretary general of TTFI, said, “I am sending it (the email) with the government SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). The government had given us guidelines on sanitisation, social distancing and other preventive measures. But our guidelines will be more extensive and camp-related.”
The TTFI is considering the second half of June to conduct the camp, he said. Patiala, Chennai, Kolkata, Sonepat and New Delhi are among the location options. “Kolkata looks difficult because of the havoc wreaked by Cyclone Amphan recently. We will have to check if S. Raman’s facility (in Chennai) will be able to accommodate 18-20 players, including coaches while maintaining sanitisation and social distancing. There is a school in New Delhi which has an air-conditioned facility, so that’s an option as well,” Singh said.
Singh said the proposed plan would only be executed after the players’ approval, and in complete coordination with the central and the State governments. He said the safety and health would be the priority.
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“The two camps, for male and female players, will be conducted at the same venue but at different timings. A maximum of 10 players along with a coach will train together at any given point,” Singh said.
“The morning and the evening sessions will have two three-hour slots, one each for male and female players. Between each session, sanitisation will take place. We will maintain social distancing and follow all the guidelines strictly at all times. Everyone will have separate rooms and toilets.”
Singh said there is also a possibility of conducting separate camps for men’s and women’s players on different dates.
Players unsure about travelling
India’s paddlers are fine with the idea of the camp, but are unsure about travel.
World No. 31 Sharath Kamal said he was happy with TTFI’s proactive response to the coronavirus-forced lockdown, but had his reservations about travel, especially with the uncertainty looming over flight schedules. “Yes, the flights have started but a lot of them are still being cancelled. A lot of doubts are yet to be cleared. Moreover, it’s not only about the safety of the players. We also need to keep in mind the safety of the cleaners, the cooks and the maintenance staff at the facility.”
World No. 32 G. Sathiyan hopes the camp happens in his hometown, Chennai, but he is also doubtful whether players from different States will be able to travel. “Camp is not an issue, but let the flights operate more regularly. The routes are very currently very limited and most States have set-up quarantine rules. A lot still needs to be worked out, so I am not entirely sure I would want to travel.”
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Surat-based paddler Harmeet Desai said he would consult his team-mates before arriving at a decision. Desai is also apprehensive about travelling. “I received the email only a few hours ago. I will also consult with my family before arriving at a decision. I don’t think the problem is staying in the facility at training. The risk lies while travelling, meeting and interacting with others. A lot of players will come from different parts of the country.”
The TTFI mail listing the guidelines follows up its mail to top players on May 18 for their opinion on conducting the camp.