India to part ways with foreign TT coach after Asian Games
New Delhi: German coach Peter Engel`s year-old stint with the struggling Indian table tennis team will end with the September 19-Oct 4 Asian Games, TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary said on Saturday.
Choudhary said Engel`s removal is part of the way-forward strategy post India`s worst performance at the Commonwealth Games, where it managed only a silver in the Glasgow edition in comparison to the record five-medal haul in Delhi four years ago.
"Engel`s contract was till the Commonwealth Games but now it has been extended for the Asian Games. However, we have decided not to renew his contract after the Games in Incheon. Though we need to move on with a different approach, I must say Engel gave his best in this one year," Choudhary told PTI on the eve of 44th Inter-Institutional Championships, organised by the Airport Authority of India.
Sports Authority of India (SAI), the sports ministry`s nodal agency, was paying Engel around USD 6,000 per month. Choudhary said he and other Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) officials came to a conclusion that the money could be put to better use.
"Foreign coaches are paid handsomely in India. Now we are thinking it is better to hire two professionals for the salary paid to a foreign coach. One coach will be with the junior team and the other with the seniors. Change of coach doesn`t make much of a difference to the male players, who are anyway playing in Europe," said Choudhary.
He reckoned a soft approach and questionable decision making in the Glasgow Games went against Engel.
"He is a widely respected coach in Europe. But with Indian players, you need to be a lot more strict than how he is. Some of our players don`t like to do things on their own, you have to make them work.
"Another aspect was his decision making in Glasgow. He did not play Soumyajit Ghosh at all in the knock-out games. He was one of our main players," said Choudhary.
It was the first time India to failed to win a medal in the team championships. The men`s team shockingly lost to Nigeria in the bronze play-off.
The secretary general said they are keen on getting an Asian coach on board, marking a major shift from their preference for Europeans. Before Engel, Poland`s Leszek Kucharski was in charge and Italian Massimo Costantini guided India to their best-ever CWG show in Delhi.
"We are eager to work with Koreans now. With them, we also need to ensure they understand basic English for communicating with our players," Choudhary added.