“Do not call us old or veterans, call us youngsters with passion,” some of the table tennis players, who have come here to participate in the Daulat Ram Dogra Memorial Tournament, said.
The event is being organised by the Punjab State Veterans Table Tennis Memorial Committee at Hansraj Stadium in the city for the first time.
Players up to the age of 65 are taking part in the tournament and as many as 50 of them have come from states like Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab and Delhi.
Before the starting of the tournament, these ‘young’ veterans who have come from different states gathered in the table tennis hall at Hansraj Stadium and discussed their journey so far, about their never-ending devotion towards sports and government’s apathy towards the game.
KP Rathod, 62, who hails from Ahmadabad and has been an international table tennis umpire, said, “I can read anything without using spectacles as I have a perfect eyesight of 6/6, which most of the youngsters today do not have. It is because of the game.”
“The game needs a lot of concentration and this is what keeps us energetic at this stage too,” he said.
Rathod, who has been giving coaching to students in table tennis, said that the government’s lack of concern towards the game has emanated negative feelings among the youngsters towards the game, many students who come to take coaching leave the game after sometime and develop their interest towards cricket.
The veterans said it was so disheartening that cricket has become a synonym to sports in India.
BS Vaghela, 63 who has been an international player, said youngsters want to make money and fame through cricket only.
“Look at us, we have come here and we have not been given any kind of help or aid by the government. We have come just because it is our zeal to play.”
The players, after the completion of the tournament, will gear up for world championship for veterans which will be held in Spain in May 2016 for which around 3000 entries have been sent from India.
Raj Khurana, who has also come here to play, said, “We do not get anything from the government even if we play world championship, all the expenses are paid by us only. But still we go just because sports has been an integral part of our lives”.
The winner will get Rs 10,000.