Ex-India hockey Captain Dhanraj Pillay buys team in Mumbai Super Table Tennis League
The players’ auction of the Mumbai Super Table Tennis League(MSL) held at National Sports Club of India, Mumbai saw a familiar name amongst the names of team owners. Ex-Indian captain and four-time Hockey Olympian Dhanraj Pillay, one of the most popular players to represent the country in the game of hockey became the co-owner of Blazing Bashers.
Pillay said his decision to buy the team would lead to a better involvement in the game of table-tennis. Being the joint secretary of the Air India Sports Promotion Board, table tennis is one of the games that Pillay is involved with in that capacity and looks forward to promoting the sport in the country.
“Last year I was the chief guest at the prize distribution function of this League and was impressed by the passion I saw. I told Kamlesh Mehta (former national table tennis champion and chairperson of MSL’s organising committee) that I want to buy a team if possible.
“Money is not important, but (by buying a team) my involvement will be there. You will see me in shorts and T-shirt shouting for my team,” said the legendary player and current manager of the Indian Men’s Hockey team at the media conference to announce the details of the MSL.
Kamlesh Mehta, himself a two-time Olympian and the winner of eight men’s national singles titles in table tennis, was also present at the conference. Last year’s event was held as an experiment, with player fees not being a part of it. However, this year 60 percent of the money involved in the tournament would go to the players through fees and prize money.
The overall cost of hosting the League will work out between Rs 20 and 25 lakh or even more, according to Mehta.
The highest buy in the auction was Sanil Shetty, winner of the National men’s singles title in 2014, who fetched a price of Rs. 35,500. Among the women paddlers, Divya Deshpande got the highest bid of Rs. 23,500. The Mumbai Super Table Tennis League will be held from July 7-10, and each tie will see nine matches featuring men, women, junior boys and girls, cadets and veterans sweating it out and giving their best for their teams.
The League would give a major boost to the game of table tennis, which is slowing gaining prominence and popularity in India.