Uniform coaching system needed, says table tennis coach

Reasoning out his remark, Constantini says India is a continent where players from different states play different styles of table tennis and it is difficult to mould them by the time they get to the national level. The Italian, who has been training the Indian players for 18 months, feels the state coaches need to be trained first so that they are able to impart similar style of coaching.

"There is enormous talent in the country, only it needs to be honed. India is a huge continent where a player from Bihar, for instance, plays differently from the one coming from Tamil Nadu."

"There has to be a head coach who can guide the state coaches and monitor their work. The work ethic and training methods have to be similar everywhere. That will make players across the country playing in a uniform style and that will make the job of the national coach easy in evolving a strategy," Constantini told IANS.

The Italian says that for any country a proper coaching structure is a must, without which India will struggle to produce top-50 players. Sharath Kamal, ranked 39, is the only Indian in the top 50 of the men’s world rankings. The second highest ranked Indian player Amalraj Anthony is way down at 152.

Mouma Das, at 204, is the highest ranked Indian on the women’s circuit. Former players Kamlesh Mehta, Manjit Dua and Chetan Baboor are among the few Indians who have done well at the international level in the last two decades.

"With a single Indian doing well internationally, you can’t call yourself a strong table tennis nation. The situation will improve only when uniform coaching starts at the grassroots level."

One of Constantini’s responsibilities as coach is to guide state-level coaches in the country. But, because of the Commonwealth and Asian Games, he has only been able to conduct a few workshops and not as many as he would have liked to. His contract with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is till the Asian Games in November.

"Constantini’s contract will end in a couple of months, but we are planning to extend it. I hope he accepts our offer and continues to work for the good of the game in the country,” said Dhanraj Choudhary, secretary general of TTFI.

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