The inaugural Indian Table Tennis League, offering Rs. 1 crore prize money, will take off in May-June next year, the organisers announced today besides boasting that the franchise-based event will be the first ever league to get a dedicated window by world body ITTF.
The announcement came after months of planning though many questions still remain unanswered for the league scheduled from May 28 to June 12 in the Olympic year.
As of now, the league will have eight teams battling out for the lucrative prize money. Besides that, the teams will have a foreign male and female player each as well as an Indian in both categories.
Officials of 11EVEN Sports, the company formed to run the league and which has the backing of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), said the event format will be worked out soon.
“Today we have just announced the launch of the league. We are still in the process of working out the number of teams, who their owners will be and players’ participation from all around the world. Now that we have got the ITTF nod, we are confident the best players of the world will be a part of this league, which will turn out to be a great learning experience for the Indian players,” 11EVEN Sports director and former player Kamlesh Mehta told PTI .
Mehta, an Arjuna awardee, further said the players will be paid as per their world rankings besides assuring the participation of the mighty Chinese players.
“We have already had meetings with the Chinese officials and they seem very open to providing their players. Though the event is in the Olympic year, it is two months before the Rio Games begin. We will get the world’s best players to India,” said Mehta.
Heading 11EVEN Sports is Vita Dani, who is also the co-owner of Indian Super League franchise Chennaiyin FC.
The company will be the promoters of the league and will solely take care of the financial aspect while TTFI will provide the technical expertise and will be paid by the promoters on a season basis.
Both TTFI and 11EVEN Sports also signed a 10-year agreement for the promotion of the sport in the country.
Reigning national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, who was present at the launch, said the league will help the Indian players immensely.
“We will get to play against the best in our own country. As of now, we all train overseas but with the arrival of the league, we will get to spend so much time with the best in the business. How they train, how they prepare, things like that,” said Ghosh.