International Table Tennis league planned for next year in India
Table tennis has become the latest sport to jump into the franchise-based league bandwagon with the event full of top foreign players planned for May-June 2016.
Jaipur: Table tennis has become the latest sport to jump into the franchise-based league bandwagon with the event full of top foreign players planned for May-June 2016.
The league proposal will be tabled at the AGM of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), which claims to have secured the funding for the ambitious project from a Mumbai-based backer.
"The proposal will be made at our AGM here tomorrow and only a simple majority is needed for the approval, making the process a formality. We want this league to take off as it will give a huge push to Indian table tennis," TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told PTI, adding that former player and Arjuna Awardee Kamlesh Mehta will play a crucial role in the organisation of the league.
The aim of the proposed international league is to popularise the game in the country besides giving the local players opportunity to rub shoulders with the world's best including from powerhouse China.
The initial plan is to have eight teams from across India for the three week-competition and its format will be finalised after considering the wishes of the television broadcaster. The event's budget is pegged between Rs 15-20 crore and like the IPL, players will go under the hammer at an auction.
The organisers are also confident getting the event approved from the Asian Table Tennis Union (ATTU) and International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). And if the nod comes through, the TTFI says the event will be able to attract top players from Asia and Europe.
ATTU secretary general Tony Yue, here for the 28th Asian Cup, offered full support to the Indian initiative.
"I have got to know that TTFI is planning a league. It is something that was long overdue. All leading table tennis playing countries are successful because they have a league in place. So I am glad that India has finally realised the need for this," said Tony.
He further said that one of the major challenges for the league will be to draw overseas players in an Olympic year.
The organisers are looking at May-June to conduct the league while the Rio Olympics take place in August.
India's number one player Sharath Kamal, who plays for a German club, hopes the league gives table tennis a push like it has given to sports like badminton and football.
"Doing a league seems to be the trend these days. I hope it works for our game too. It is something we surely needed considering the game has fall off the popularity radar. For the Indians, it will be a great opportunity to learn from the Chinese and players from other Asian countries. The locals would be able stay with them for a period of time, train with them. It could be of immense help," said Sharath.