Finding a pool of young and talented players will be the Pakistan Table Tennis Federation’s (PTTF) aim at the national championship from April 19 in Peshawar.
This aim, according to the federation, will help them send a formidable squad to the Asian Juniors Championship’s qualifying round that takes place in India in June.
PTTF President Riaz Ahmed has realised it was time the older players were replaced as he puts his focus on the upcoming talent and added that the best four players will be sent to India for the qualifying event and will be trained by Chinese coaches later.
“We’ve had enough,” Riaz told The Express Tribune. “The seniors have done their part as most of them have been playing for over 25 years. We try and send our players to international events once a year but it’s really discouraging when they fail to win or even improve their game.
“So our new motto is to find new talent and the national championship is the right platform for that.”
Local players excited by the change
Meanwhile, at major table tennis clubs in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, the players are thrilled by the change in the PTTF’s attitude.
“It’s a positive sign because I’ve been playing for the past 10 years and never once has the PTTF tried to promote young talent on the national level,” said Akbar Shah, who plays at Karachi’s Islamia Club.
“We have one of the strongest teams in Pakistan. All the players representing Sindh in the National Games belonged to Islamia Club because people who play here come from the best schools and colleges so it’s the cream of the crop.
“The National Championship is a huge deal for us because we usually play more than 20 regional and inter-club tournaments per year but there’s no progression from there.”
Salman Zirq from Peshawar said that the trend in the national championship was changing, and that the sport was gaining popularity among youngsters. He said that in Peshawar alone, his club has more than 500 players.
“There’s been a monopoly but now things are improving,” said Zirq. “And that’s why we’re all excited.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.