When India’s star paddler Manika Batra referred to Soumyadeep Roy, India’s national coach, as “Sutirtha Mukherjee’s personal trainer” in a media interview during the Tokyo Olympics, it created ripples, forcing the Indian Table Tennis Federation (TTFI) to issue a show cause notice in Manika.
However, Roy, a former national men’s singles champion, remains unfazed. “Why she (Manika) did this, she knows her the best. I was empowered by TTFI. I have been the national coach for the past four years, traveling with the team for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), the world championships in Budapest without foreign coaches. I know my duty, ”Roy said in an interaction with The Hindu Wednesday.
Roy said if there was clear communication between all parties involved, things could be done amicably, as happened at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in Doha in March of this year.
“I know my job”
“During the Olympic qualification, it was very clear that Manika’s personal trainer [Sanmay Paranjape] will be allowed to sit for his match and I will be seated for mixed doubles (Sharath Kamal-Manika) and Sharath and Sathiyan singles matches. For me, it’s better if I know my job. Whatever TTFI says, I will follow, ”Roy said.
Roy said he had nothing against personal trainers per se. “They have a huge role. There should be guidelines. TTFI should take a call on this, ”he said. “Suppose we go to the CWG with 10 players, we can’t have 10 personal trainers.”
According to the 37-year-old player from Kolkata, in the absence of a personal trainer at the national camp, the national coach can coordinate with the personal trainer and work with the player concerned on the areas prescribed by the personal trainer.
Roy, however, disagrees with the idea that the Top 50 in the world be allowed to have a personal trainer off the court at a major international tournament. “What’s wrong if someone who is rated 70 or 80?” [in the world] wants a personal coach. They can still be a medal prospect in CWG or for that matter those ranked in 120s. How do we justify it? he said.
With the Asian Table Tennis Championships scheduled for Doha from September 28 to October 5, it is TTFI’s responsibility to provide clear directions.