Shillong: The 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship kicked off on Monday at SAI at the NEHU campus in Shillong. Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh graced the event as its chief guest.

Sports minister Banteidor Lyngdoh attended the event as the ‘guest of honour’ and officials from the Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) and sports department were also present during the inauguration ceremony.

The teams

Notably, 449 players are participating in this tournament from across the country. Fourteen players are representing Meghalaya, the hosts of the 83rd Sr National TT Championship.

Dozens of matches were held, with team events featuring on the first day. The Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), Bengal A, Haryana, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), Maharashtra A, Tamizhaga Table Tennis Association (TTTA), Maharashtra B and Karnataka stood out after two rounds of matches. However, the real fight is expected among teams to occupy the second spot in their groups. Two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage.

Beyond hosting, harsh reality for Meghalaya players

With a total of 14 table tennis players (6 girls and 8 boys) from Meghalaya participating in the 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship, speculation are rife that the government has not given enough resources to help the team.

While speaking with EastMojo, Meghalaya Table Tennis coach Kamesh Gareri said preparations for the tournament have been only average. He said they ideally needed “more time to prepare for such a big tournament.”

“It’s a big tournament and we are competing against Olympic athletes it’s not that simple to come and just participate. The team doesn’t get the support from the government,” stated Gareri.

He rued the lack of funds and resources for team preparation, which was “less than one per cent of the total budget.”

“One player got only two balls, which is the reality. Players are sweating, they don’t have enough t-shirts to change. One or two t-shirts isn’t enough for such events,” said the coach.

While Gareri does not believe the home team can win a medal this time, the coach is positive that they will be able to at least identify the players who perform well and can be groomed for future events. 

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