New TT coach named,but questions remain

The uncertainty over a new table-tennis head coach finally ended with the sports ministry on Friday naming Massimo Constantini...

Written by Daksh Panwar | New Delhi | Published:January 10, 2009 12:29 am

The uncertainty over a new table-tennis head coach finally ended with the sports ministry on Friday naming Massimo Constantini of Italy for the job. A former player,Constantini has six years of coaching experience and was recently working with the United Arab Emirates team. He takes over from Belarusian Aleksey Yefremov who was released after a year with the team,and will have the primary responsibility of grooming the core group of 40 Indian paddlers for the Commonwealth Games 2010.

“The steering committee has decided to appoint Massimo as new head coach,” TTFI’s technical committee chairman Dhanraj Chaudhary said. “He has vast experience as a player and then a coach,and we think he is the right candidate for the job.”

But while he may be the “right” choice,Constantini wasn’t the first choice. In fact,the TTFI was gunning for Marcus Gustafsson but the Swede opted out of the race after he got another contract in Europe. Korean Cho Son Kee didn’t fit the bill as he was insisting on a three-year contract,thus the committee was effectively left with only one option.

“It isn’t like that,” said Chaudhary,when asked if the committee ran out of options. “They were all recommended by the international federation,” he said,suggesting that all candidates were equally qualified.

Better qualified

But if the qualification was the criterion,the outgoing coach Yefremov is an ITTF Level 1-Level 2 certified coach,while Constantini only has a Level 1 certification. The TTFI official said he wasn’t “sure about that”.

It is,however,Constantini’s credentials as a player that give the Italian a distinct advantage. A former world No 39,he played for Italy for 22 years — from 1973 to 1995 — representing his country in 11 world champions and at the Seoul Olympics. The numbers leave his predecessor in awe. “You look at Constantini’s record,it’s very impressive. I think he’ll make a very good coach,” Yefremov told The Indian Express from Minsk.

Constantini comes on a one-year contract,subject to renewal,and is expected to arrive on January 20. Meanwhile,the junior paddlers will have to do without a coach for the time being as the TTFI said it was yet to take a decision on the successor of Chinese Yen Wei,who had quit on December 30.

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