New Delhi, July 26: Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, believes that Indian table tennis is on the rise and India must become a global powerhouse in sports.
Commenting on the rise of the sport, Rijiju said he hopes India will win an Olympic medal someday. Rijiju made the comments during the opening ceremony of the third edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) season on Thursday (July 26).
"In recent times, we have seen that table tennis is on the rise and they have been winning medals at many international tournaments. The sport has immense potential and I hope someday we will win an Olympic medal in table tennis," Rijiju said during the opening ceremony.
Rijiju lauded the efforts of TTFI and UTT for conceptualizing the league and conceded that India has a lot of potential in TT.
"I compliment UTT for their efforts and believe it has played a huge role in popularizing the sport in India. Leagues like these are essential for making a sport popular and I assure everyone that our ministry will do everything to support and promote table tennis in the country," he added.
The third edition of the country's premier table tennis league began with defending champions Dabang Delhi T.T.C taking on Puneri Paltan at the Thyagaraj Stadium. Puneri Paltan won the match 8-7.
"Table tennis is an accessible game and it can reach out to any part of India for you need a table, a set of racquets and a ball to play this wonderful game. Table Tennis, I think, can easily reach to the rural part of the country and I think it has the potential to becoming the most popular game. We'll discuss with the concerned officials and look forward to providing better coaching facilities. We can even tie-up with countries, dominant in this sport to improve and inculcate the nuances of the sport at the grassroots level," he told media persons.
"In recent times, we have seen that table tennis is on the rise and they have been winning medals at many international tournaments. The sport has immense potential and I hope someday we will win an Olympic medal in table tennis," Rijiju said.
"The sports ministry will try to see that how more table tennis academies could be set up in the country so that the leagues like Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) constantly helps the budding talents improve their game," he added further.
Talking about the budgetary allocations made keeping the Olympic Games in mind, the minister said, "We have the top scheme for our Olympic-bound athletes. Keeping the Tokyo Olympics in mind, we will be focussing on providing maximum exposure to our athletes in the sports where India is strong.
"Qualification matches are going on so we do not know how many athletes are going to get the ticket to the Olympics. Hopefully, well send our biggest-ever contingent to the Olympics. More than that, we are expecting to achieve the highest-ever medal haul. I cannot predict the numbers but we are hopeful and it all depends upon how prepared we are. The government and the ministry are committed and we have put things in such a way that every need of the federations as well as the athletes is met."