NEW DELHI: After multiple attempts and change of locations, the national table tennis camp will begin from October 28. The 42-day camp will be held inside the Delhi Public School premises in Sonepat.
Five male paddlers (A Sharath Kamal, Manush Shah, Manav Thakkar, Sudhanshu Grover, Jubin Kumar) and six female paddlers (Anusha Kutumbale, Diya Chitale, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Archana Kamath, Takeme Sarkar, Kaushani Nath) will be part of the camp. They will be joined by coaches Arup Basak and Sunil Babras and masseur Amarjit Singh. Everyone will be staying in the residential facilities of DPS.
A few more were approached for the camp. Multiple Commonwealth Games medallist Manika Batra declined. Harmeet Desai and G Sathiyan are in Europe and as per their plans, it will not be possible for them to join up with their compatriots. Another senior player is suffering from Covid-19 and was not included in the list.
All the players will need to submit letters of consent and undergo RT-PCR tests 96 hours prior to arrival. They will be allowed to travel after getting a negative result. In case of an emergency, there is provision of being tested upon arrival. Ticketing arrangements will be made by the Sports Authority of India. The camp has been sanctioned at a cost of approximately Rs 18 lakh (plus air travel and medical expenses).
Initially it was believed that SAI Bengaluru would be the location for the camp but the centre has no facilities for table tennis and a lot of procurement was needed. So it was decided to shift it to Sonepat which already has facilities, having hosted the North Zone nationals a few times. The premises is being cleaned and sanitised from Saturday.
With regards to the duration, players were of the opinion that it should be shorter, with more players. But this is the best arrangement that was possible at this point, something that Sharath admitted. "This is a start at least. Thanks to TTFI and SAI, at least the camp is finally starting. And we can build from here. For far too long, we have not been training properly due to lockdown and other restrictions."
Players plan to be there first and then they will have discussions with the federation and SAI whether to shorten the duration or include a few more so as to freshen things up. "We might have these discussions after a few training sessions. We will be in a better position to judge our best possible requirements. It would be prudent to have another camp after a short break, but these will be touched upon at a later date," Sharath added.