Pakistan’s paddlers are looking up to India to promote table tennis in their country.
“Pakistan is not as strong in table tennis as India. We are looking to India to help us in promoting this game,” Pakistan player Rahila Kashif told IANS as she watched the women’s doubles final between the Indian pairs of Mouma Das-Kumaresan Shamini and Manika Batra-Pooja Sahasrabudhe here on Wednesday.
“The federations of both countries (Table Tennis Federation of India and Pakistan Table Tennis Federation) should also conduct friendly matches to help us in promoting table tennis.
“Top table tennis players from India like Mouma Das, Anthony Amalaraj and others should come to Pakistan to coach our junior teams,” Khashif added.
Lamenting that Pakistan have not been able to produce good table tennis players, the 39-year-old said, “I have been playing for the last 25 years as there are no fresh players to replace us.”
“We need to have more (training) camps for our young players, but for that we first need to have more international games to attract young Pakistani’s boys and girls to table tennis,” Kashif said.
“Therefore, we would be glad If India and Pakistan have more friendly matches and we both teams playing in both the countries.”
In fact, Assim Qureshi, who was part of the Pakistan men’s team that took the bronze medal at the ongoing 12th South Asain Games here, is the oldest player in the competition at 51 years of age.
The duo of Shabnam Bilal and Raheela Khalif — members of the Pakistan women’s team who bagged silver — are both over 45. They were also part of the Pakistan team that clinched silver at the 2004 edition in Islamabad.
India coach Vijayasarathi Seshadri said that it is up to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to decide on friendly matches between the two countries.
“We are good neighbours. We will be glad if we can promote sports even in our neighbouring countries but the decision should be taken by our federation and the government,” India team manager Tridib Duvarah told IANS.
TTFI secretary general V. Dhanraj Choudhary refused to comment on the issue, saying that it is up to the Indian government to decide on a bilateral series.
(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at email@example.com)