The national sub-junior table tennis championship that concluded in Alappuzha, Kerala, on November 25 has stirred a hornet’s nest, with a record number of complaints from parents and state federations on the issue of overage being registered — putting a big question mark on the sanctity of the event.
In a letter submitted to the president of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), more than 50 aggrieved parents and state federation officials have come out openly against the TTFI, saying, “With deep anguish and pain we would like to inform you that several state units have fielded overage players, thus depriving the legitimate players the opportunity to win the event.”
The memorandum adds: “It is a pathetic sight watching overage players thrashing youngsters…we request you to take immediate steps to put an end to such malpractices.”
The overage issue acquired such proportions in Alappuzha that the Andhra Pradesh team was disqualified and a Delhi player had to return though she had being cleared by the Delhi Table Tennis Association.
One of the parents, who even paid Rs 500 to get his complaint registered, said: “It was one of the worst tournaments held ever. “The TTFI officials later returned my money, fearing another scandal.”
Furnishing the draw-sheets, he said the draws were altered to favour certain players.
When contacted, TTFI secretary MC Chowhan said he was still in Alappuzha trying to sort out the matter. “I am aware of the overage problem … a lot of paddlers were debarred, while a couple of state units were also disqualified.
“From now on, the TTFI is not going to go by the age certificates furnished by schools,” he said. “Only municipal corporation and hospital certificates would be admissible.”
“We also conducted age-determination tests on around 10 players in Alappuzha and the results are awaited,” added Chowhan.
With the junior national championships coming up in Cuttack, one hopes that it doesn’t turn out to be a farce like Alappuzha.