CHENNAI: Table tennis in the country is on the rise. While three players are in the top-100 — A Sharath Kamal (44), Harmeet Desai (81), Soumyajit Ghosh (84) — the Ultimate Table Tennis league (UTT) is set to be a game-changer. Someone who has been witness to the gradual rise as well as being part of the league is former national champ Soumyadeep Roy.
Soumyadeep, who knows all the Indian players well, was part of the Indian contingent that took part in the World TT Championships in Dusseldorf. He was invited by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to travel with the team and work with current national coach Massimo Costantini.
“The TTFI felt with my extensive knowledge of the game and since I know most of the players personally, I could be of help. It is the right step for me in my coaching career,” Soumyadeep told Express.
He plans to divide time between national commitments and his own academy in Kolkata, which he runs with the help of his wife and former national champion Poulami Ghatak. He has also recently become a father.
His coaching exploits, which includes helping the likes of Arjun Ghosh and Soumyajit Ghosh, impressed the promoters of the UTT and he was roped in by Bayside Spinners as their Indian coach.
“We have a good mix of youth and experience. The Indians are young with plenty of raw talent. Sanil Shetty (200) is obviously the star. The foreigners are experienced and will add depth during the mixed play rounds. The format of the event is such that our combination play will be benefited,” the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist assessed.
With each of the franchises having a foreign coach, there are bound to be difference of opinions. But Soumyadeep has an interesting tale to narrate.
“We knew about our coaching roles prior to the World Championships. When I went to Dusseldorf, I met up with Francisco Santos (Bayside Spinners foreign coach), who was there with the Portugal contingent. We bonded well and actually ended up discussing our picks for the draft! I’m sure we will prove to be a good combination,” the 32-year-old said.
Soumyadeep is a firm believer in the Chinese model of coaching — having been coached by Yin Wei, who was his coach at the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board Academy in Ajmer — where sticking to basics is of paramount importance.
Regarding how the league can shape the future of the sport in the country, Soumyadeep said, “In our days, we lacked professionalism. The league will bring that to our paddlers and the money on offer is also substantial.”