New Delhi: The inordinate delay in the appointment of a new national coach has forced the Indian players to train overseas for the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships.
The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) has decided to send the men's team to Sweden and women to China for three weeks ahead of the May 5-10 Commonwealth championships in New Delhi.
The appointment of an overseas coach is getting delayed partly owing to the recent administrative changes at the top in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and partly because of the TTFI's delay in zeroing in on a name.
SAI director general Gopalakrishna was transferred out last month and Jiji Thomson took charge only last week. "By the time we could finalise the name of the overseas coach, Gopalakrishna was transferred and we would soon take up the matter with Thomson. With not much time left for the Commonwealth Championships, we thought it better to send the players overseas," TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told IANS.
Italian Massimo Costantini, who coached the team in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games before moving to the US, is the most likely choice as his contract with the Indian Community Centre in California ends by this month end.
The men's team, which will be training at Peter Karlsson's Academy in Falkenberg from the first week of April, comprises reigning national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, Sharath Kamal, Anthony Amalraj, Sanil Shetty and Soumyadeep Roy. Ghosh and Desai are already there.
The women's unit consisting of national champion Shamini Kumaresan, Ankita Das, Madhurika Patkar, Neha Aggarwal, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Mouma Das will practice at China's National Training Centre in Zhengding. A notable name missing is Poloumi Ghatak, who is to undergo a knee surgery.
The team is without a head coach since the London Olympics and the players hope that position is filled soon. "I hope TTFI finds someone quickly. The Commonwealth Championships is a big event. I know it is not easy to find a good coach and that is why the delay," Ghosh told IANS from Sweden.