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Getting down to business

About a year ago,Sunal Jain had to reschedule his timetable. The Delhi’s top-ranked paddler,who entered the pre-quarters of the Delhi State Ranking Table Tennis Championship beating Vinayak Sood 3-2 on Friday...

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi |
July 18, 2009 12:02:12 am

About a year ago,Sunal Jain had to reschedule his timetable. The Delhi’s top-ranked paddler,who entered the pre-quarters of the Delhi State Ranking Table Tennis Championship beating Vinayak Sood 3-2 on Friday,had to give up the bigger chunk of his practice time to the means of his livelihood — his family’s transport business. After spending 13 years in the domestic table tennis circuit,family business wasn’t the choice Jain had made — he had nothing to choose from,he says.

“Everyone takes up the sport to get a job at some point because that’s the best you can do here. Each year I was told by coaches and fellow players that I will get a job anytime or there’ll be an opening soon. But nobody tells you directly these days that there’s no job available,” says Jain,adding,“I feared this and kept studying. I have a post-graduate degree but the wait was getting too long and I decided to take up the business last year. In a way I’m lucky that I’m doing something. I have seen people quitting the game because there were no jobs. There have been no recruitments from Delhi in the last ten years or so. As far as I remember,Rajiv Ghei was the last on the list.”

The repercussions,Jain feels,lead to further deterioration in the standard of the game. “One of the major reasons why Delhi stands nowhere in the national circuit is the lack of jobs. The present situation doesn’t invite you to take up the game because you know there’s nothing you will gain from it. A job is the minimum you ask for. The increasing drop-outs reflect the condition of the sport in Delhi,” Jain says.

Ghei,an Indian Oil employee,thanks his stars for getting a job as he also found himself in a similar,though slightly better,situation back in 2001.

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“With players around me leaving the game due to unavailability of jobs,I had decided to quit as well. I was lucky,but I had to approach my employers. Financial security is what a player needs and even players like Sunal (Jain) would leave business if they get a job,irrespective of their earnings. I have seen some promising players like Rajat Chopra,Abhishek Puri and Nitin Mahajan quitting table tennis because they didn’t have an assured livelihood. I think the now the companies aren’t that interested because of the falling standards. But a state level player is anyway good enough for an offer,” the 29-year-old says.

Happier days
Delhi veteran and the last from the Capital among the top five Indians,Himansh P Kala,was the odd-man out at the Community Centre on Friday afternoon. He certainly was spoilt for choices in 1991.

“I got a job sitting at my home,literally. I received my appointment letter after winning a state level tournament. Even though I was ranked fourth in India,I wasn’t expecting it. The situation now is grave,but that has also to do with the privatisation,especially that of the banks. The new association has a big role to play in this,” the 39-year-old Central Bank of India employee says.

Meanwhile,as he carries on with his business,the 23-year-old Jain says passion is the only motivation. “I took up table tennis because I liked it. Obviously not getting a job hurt at some point. I’m happy to get back to the top with just two hours’ daily practice. That’s all I can afford,” says Jain.

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First published on: 18-07-2009 at 12:02:12 am

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