India's senior-most paddler A Sharath Kamal has opened up about the entire controversy surrounding the TTFI and Manika Batra. Without taking any sides Sharath pointed out where Batra went wrong, and also pointed out the areas where the federation needs to work on which would be beneficial for all.
India's most experienced table tennis player A Sharath Kamal has finally opened up about the entire controversy surrounding Manika Batra and the TTFI, with the former stating that no player should have a problem attending the national camp, and the federation cannot crack a whip on the players until they bring a proper system in place.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Sharath said, “How often are they (federation) calling for the camps: in a year maybe 60 days, maximum. If you can’t give that to your national team, then what can be done? Considering you are playing tournaments for 200 days out of the remaining 300, that still gives you 100 days for your own personal training. It’s just about balancing things.”
Sharath and Suthirtha Mukherjee were the only players who attended the Pre-Olympics camp in Sonepat in June-July. G Sathiyan trained in Chennai and Batra trained in Pune.
“For me, the essential aspect of a national camp is to work together and get better together. Alone, we can’t go too far. Sure, if Manika practices alone, or Sathiyan or Sharath train in Chennai, they could excel. But nobody else is going to benefit from that. The youngsters - the likes of Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath - need to benefit as well, and we need to build that structure for them. You can’t just say, “OK, I’ve done my part and I’ll walk away”. You need to come into the camps where each one helps the other get better,” Sharath said.
Later in Tokyo, Manika refused help from national coach Soumyadeep Roy and alleged that the latter had asked her to concede her match during a qualifiers tournament.
“Instead of all of us having an individual fitness coach, why can’t there be one fitness coach overseeing us?” Sharath said. “Of course, you will have your personal support staff, and also the differences with the national staff. Fine, but let your fitness coach talk to the national fitness coach and sort it out, or your personal coach talk to the national coach and say, “these are the things we’ve been working on, this is where I feel he or she lacks, this is the kind of training we can think of”. As a personal coach, you know the player much better. So share that. And get done with it.”
As for the TTFI, Sharath indicated that there is work to be done from their side as well. “It’s important to have the camp but also important to have physios, female physios and masseurs for women players, sparring partners, etc. We need a panel of coaches, at least 1-2 foreign coaches. We’re not asking for something five-star, this is the basic stuff which is necessary in any training camp. The national camp should be buzzing like a beehive, where players should want to go,” Sharath said.
“These rules are formed for more or less one person; the others are pretty much fine. Also, if you look at table tennis by and large, it is a well-behaved crop with very few exceptions. So you don’t need to be so harsh.
“Here, they are whipping the lash. As important as camps are, it’s up to the federation to give us the basics. You can whip the lash when you have those things in place. Without having those things in place, saying you need to attend a camp, with a two-day prior notice, is not the way forward.”
Meanwhile, Sharath said that he has sent a list of requirements to the TTFI before the next camp in held.