Former table tennis player Rajath Kamal on his new role as sports analyst of the Indian senior team
Being away from table tennis for a year made Rajath Kamal realise how much he loved the sport. The 23-year-old feels delighted to be back, but in a different role. What he couldn’t achieve as a player, Rajath believes he could deliver in his new role as sports analyst of the senior men and women Indian teams — the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has recently appointed him sports analyst to train the probables till the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
“It feels great to be involved with the Indian team in a different way. For me personally, all the pain (as a player fighting opponents and injuries) hasn’t gone waste. I wanted to be involved in sports in some way or the other, and this came as a godsend,” says Rajath.
Not quite a player of the class and calibre of his elder brother Sharath, Rajath showed signs of promise when he became the No.1 paddler in Tamil Nadu in 2007, but unfortunately a shoulder injury the subsequent year scuttled his well-laid plans.
He studied MBA with the intention of entering the corporate world. He did join a reputed BPO firm in October 2008 only to develop a dislike for its rigid ways. “It wasn’t a smooth transition,” concedes Rajath. He quit the job two months ago, determined to pursue a sports-related course.
That’s when he received a call from Bhavani Mukherjee, SAI chief coach for table tennis, informing him that the Table Tennis Federation of India was looking for a sports analyst with a table tennis background to train the Indian probables, and Rajath’s profile turned out to be a clincher.
Rajath’s job will include taking videos of each and every player (men and women) in the core probables, analyse the players’ strokes, suggest corrections or modifications in consultation with Mukherjee and the National coach Massimo Costantini. “My brief is to merge what the player perceives his/her game to be and what his/her game really is and in the end get the best out of them,” he says of his new assignment. “It also involves taking videos (and analysing them) of possible opponents from the Commonwealth countries such as Australia, England, Nigeria and Singapore.”
Rajath feels interaction with his brother Sharath will help him get an idea of international standards. “With his insight, I can delve deep into the sport and understand it from an international perspective. Sharath has been my idol and godfather. I also owe a great deal to my father Srinivasa Rao and uncle Muralidhara Rao, who were my coaches,” he says.
China will be Rajath’s first major assignment where he will assist the team on a 15-day camp beginning October 12. “I’ll be using a laptop and high definition software. At the moment, we have not received the Silicon coach Pro (the video software used to record players’ performances) and we hope to get it soon,” he says.
Rajath says his idea has always been to develop a sport and give it a new profile and his role of analyst, he believes, will give a fresh impetus to table tennis. “Improving and developing a sport gives me greater satisfaction than what I get from being a player,” he says.