Top veteran players along with current and retired coaches from every part of the country will form specialized talent scouting squads to identify potential talent at a young age aiming at 2028 Olympics.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said: “We have set ourselves a goal of having India in the top 10 countries in the Olympic 2028 medal tally. It is an ambitious goal, but not impossible. We have already started scouting for young talent and after the Covid19 pandemic is over, the government will form specialized squads for each sporting discipline consisting of present and veteran coaches and athletes. These teams will travel to every district of the country to scout for raw talent. We still have 8 years to prepare for 2028 and I am confident with the correct policies, India can feature in the list of Top 10 countries.”
Sports Minister said this while addressing an online knowledge enhancement session of table tennis coaches, which was attended by former India player Kamlesh Mehta, secretary of TTFI MP Singh, and conducted by eminent Table Tennis coach Massimo Constantini from his home in Italy.
Massimo, who has been India’s national coach in two phases, is credited for India’s big medal hauls in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. “2018 was a landmark year for table tennis in India because by winning the two bronze medals in the Asian Games we proved that our level has improved significantly. The strongest table-tennis playing countries participate in the Asian Games and if we could clinch medals there, we can even win medals in the Olympics," Rijiju said.
He said that time is right to strengthen and popularise the game in India, especially with 27 Indian players in the top 100 and 17 of them in the top 50 in the world rankings. “Table Tennis needs very limited infrastructure and it can be played by youngsters in any part of the country. I really see a lot of potential in this sport and government policies are being framed to create more infrastructure and training facilities for table tennis at the district, state, and national level. I will also personally visit some good academies and urge them to include table tennis training. Given the standard of the game in India right now, I feel that by 2028, we should be able to clinch some medals in TT at the Olympics,” he said.
Sports Minister said it is important to organize more leagues in table tennis at the district, state, and national levels to popularise the game and motivate more youngsters to take it up. “I attended the Ultimate Table Tennis league last year and feel that leagues of this kind can help to make the sport popular and also commercialize it. It is important for corporates to show interest in creating such leagues in table tennis and in all sports so that with corporate funding and government patronage, the sporting ecosystem in the country becomes more robust.”