The Delhi Table Tennis Association (DTTA) did a remarkable volte-face on Saturday: After sending an overage player for the national and inter-state championships in Alapuzha, Kerala, fully aware of her real age, they withdrew her at the last minute on Saturday.
The DTTA had sent the sub-junior paddler to the Alapuza event, which begins on Sunday, though she was overage by two months. The father of the girl who should have been in the team, Rajeev Sethi, protested on November 16 but says that the DTTA organising secretary Hukam Singh simply ignored the matter.
Sethi, whose twin daughters have been playing for Delhi for the last four-five years, had furnished the birth certificate of the overage girl to the DTTA joint secretary Sandeep Gupta when he was leaving for Alapuzha on November 16 with the squad. “But the DTTA ignored the evidence, despite my best efforts to ensure that justice was done,” said Sethi.
“One of my daughters could have been part of the squad but now neither the overage girl nor my daughter can participate. Whose loss is it?” Sethi questioned.
“I personally went to Singh, who refused to accept the copy of the MCD birth certificate of the overage player, saying that he wanted the original certificate,” said Sethi.
Singh confirmed this incident to HT. “We strictly go by the age certificates furnished by the schools, and according to the certificate of the player we sent her to Kerala, she is under 14,” Singh said.
Asked why he did not stop the player from travelling to Kerala after being presented with evidence of trickery, Singh said, “How can I stop someone when he/she is boarding the train, this request should have come to me earlier.”
“Moreover, we do not have the wherewithal to detect overage players. That's for the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to do. A hundred such cases come to our knowledge,” said Singh. “The certificate furnished to us by the school is also original.”
But within an hour of saying this, Singh called HT to announce that he had withdrawn the overage girl from the team.
Why this change of heart?
“The parents of the overage player have confessed they had altered her birth certificate to get her admitted into school,” was Singh's latest take on the issue.
A double take within an hour by Singh, but such things are not uncommon in the crazy world of DTTA!