New Delhi:Unhygienic conditions are the biggest fear of overseas players and coaches travelling to India and the country must do its bit to allay such negative perceptions to attract foreigners, feels India`s German table tennis coach Peter Engel.
Engel observed that for Indian table tennis to excel at the world stage, a regular exchange with foreign players is the need of the hour but said not many European paddlers are interested to visit the country for its unhygienic conditions.
"Not many European players are ready to come to India. They have all heard about the stories of World Championships in 1975 and 1987 and how the players fell sick. Times have changed but apparently it is tough to change perceptions," Engel, who has been in India for over six months, said over phone from Patiala.
"If you want them to come without fear to India we need to find places where they get confidence for visiting India. One of these places could be Goa, where I was during the Lusofonia Games and I did not see any hygiene and cleanliness issues there," he said.
Engel himself has been at the receiving end on one such occasion. He vividly recalls the Delhi belly he suffered on his maiden visit to India during the 1975 World Championships in Kolkata.
Engel said even though he has been provided best of the lodging facilities at NIS, Patiala, the "hygiene" in and around the country`s premier sports institute was questionable. "I can`t really complain about anything as the authorities have taken good care of me and I feel the same about other coaches. But the hygiene standards could be improved a lot," said the former coach of Spain and the Netherlands national team.
"I have not had the courage to try the food served to players and some coaches after I found out that a hockey coach was hospitalised for 21 days after eating the same food. I usually cook or I eat out," said Engel referring to the institute run by Sports Authority of India (SAI). Back from a tour of Germany and Spain with the national team, Engel is now busy preparing his wards for the World Championships starting April 28 in Tokyo.