TT Kolkata League to take off

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Kolkata, Oct 23 (UNI) West Bengal Table Tennis Association is planning to launch their ambitious Kolkata League from this December, with plans of making it a national club championship in future.

'' Efforts are on to make this format a national phenomenon. With affiliated states divided into five units or zones and 60 top teams from the country fighting for the Best Club Trophy in matches spanned over five metropolis, Kolkata, Chennia, Delhi, Mumbai and Guwahati,'' WBTTA president and Table Tennis Federation of India vice-president Probir Mitra today said.

All the matches will be telecasted live by DD Sports or any other private broadcaster allowing the federation to draw in sponsors.

'' We have aimed at something very big and this national league can bring back table tennis to the forefront of the national consciousness. The clubs can even recruit foreign players making things more attractive. With sponsorships and attractive packaging I am sure table tennis can also become a household name, '' he added.

Talking about the first step, which is the Kolkata League, he said, '' We are going to start the League from this December. For the first year we are expecting six teams to participate. Only players from Bengal will be allowed to participate for the first edition. '' Springing a rabbit from its hat, the association presented Arup Basak as their brand ambassador to promote the game game. Former national champion Arup Basak has been associated WBTTA's rival faction, Bengal Table Tennis Association and his sudden inclusion did raise a few questions.

''I have never been part of any association. Whoever does good work to promote table tennis I am with them. The players have decided to form a League and make the game more popular and for that we have approached Mitra and he has extended his full support. All of us are here to promote table tennis, '' Basak said in his defence.

The six team league a brainchild of few of the Bengal players like Basak, Subhojit Saha and Soumyadeep Roy. It will have five players for each team and will be played under the Swathling Cup system in round robin league format.

The teams will be fielding five players, including two mandatory junior players. The players have been divided into three grades of A, B and C. The A group players will be those who figure in the senior national rankings and the B grade will have national junior players, while the C group will comprise state junior players.

The clubs will be allowed to raise sponsorships and efforts are on to bring in big Maidan clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Aryan into the fold to enjoy a huge support base. The three-month-long team championship is being touted as the magic elixir to revive the game in the state.

Announcing the holding of West Bengal State and Inter District Table Tennis Championship from Friday, he said, '' Shibaji Dutta and Anindita Chakroborty were the top seeds in the two categories in the event. '' The six-day event, the highest-ranking tournament of the state will be held at the Sports Authority of India (Netaji Subhash Eastern Centre). 12 districts affiliated under the West Bengal Table Tennis Association will take part in Rs one lakh prize money event.

Altogether 23 titles would be decided in the meet and have drawn in a record number of 805 participants.

However, national players like Soumyadeep Roy, Subhojit Saha, Poulami Ghatak and Mouma Das have decided to give the meet a miss taking out much of a sheen from the championship.

But the absence of the star performers will give the likes of Dutta, Subham Chowdhury, Mousumi Pal and other juniors a much needed chance to earn some valuable raking points.

UNI

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