It was a claustrophobic day and the 1,000 players literally sweated it out at the cramped Dandamudi Rajagopala Rao Municipal Indoor Stadium (DRRMC), where the National Ranking Table Tennis Tournament has been going on for the last three days. TNIE spoke to the 22 Andhra Pradesh players and their coaches about the state of the sport, the lack of a large stadium for the competition and if 13 TT tables, instead of 16 to 18, were enough to organise a competition.
N Shailu (19), who won medals in several national tournaments, and is a senior among six female players representing the State at national level, said, “This stadium is not enough for us. We need a bigger stadium and more tables. The infrastructure in Hyderabad is much better. In a city such as Vijayawada, there is no infrastructure worthy of its name.”
“Considering that this tournament is being hosted by APTTA, more players must take part from AP. After bifurcation, there has been no sporting infrastructure to speak of in AP,” Y Damodar Reddy, Shailu’s coach, said.R Kajol, a multiple national bronze medallist whose visa to represent India in Sri Lanka’s World Circuit Tournament was rejected due to ‘inexplicable’ reasons, said, “If we are given the right infrastructure and the facilities to practice, we can perform much better and show our mettle.”
The organisers, Andhra Pradesh Table Tennis Association (APTTA), have had a challenging time as they have been conducting the tournament from 8.30 am daily into the wee hours. “We have had a tough time due to lack of tables and it would help if the government provided us a larger stadium with more TT tables,” APTTA secretary SM Sultan said.
Another coach B Srinivas said only three table tennis coaches from the state are NIS certified, while the rest are not even qualified to provide training to players. “There is a dearth of coaches in the state. The government must employ more qualified coaches if it wants to develop the sport,” he said. Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh chairperson Ankamma Chowdary said, “We have a policy to build a stadium in each of the 175 constituencies, but are finding it difficult in the absence of vacant land.” Vijayawada Municipal Commissioner J Nivas, said, “We have been sanctioned `2 crore to build a stadium in Krishnalanka and another `2 crore to build one in One Town area.