The once-popular club game of table tennis is slowly but steadily witnessing a resurgence in Jamshedpur.
The game, which had started to lose its charm, is now seeing a number of schools coming forward to promote it. Tata Steel too is doing its bit by setting up a training centre.
An example of the growing popularity of the game is the East Singhbhum District Open Championship that is scheduled to take place from Friday at the JRD Tata Sports Complex.
The contest, which had barely managed to get 50 entries last year, has generated a lot of interest this time around with officials claiming to have received applications from over 100 interested players. Head of Tata Steel's sports department Captain Amitabh will inaugurate the event in the event in the evening.
"The interest this time around has been overwhelming. More than a 100 entries in different age categories have come in. The game is definitely reviving itself," said U.K. Chatterjee, secretary of East Singhbhum District Table Tennis Association.
He added the paddlers would be representing 10 different schools and clubs.
Not only in Jamshedpur, table tennis seems to have caught the fancy of areas surrounding the steel city as well. Of the many applications received for the upcoming tournament, one is from Chandil
"The entry from Chandil has come in under the cadet (boy) category. It is a sign that the popularity of the game ahs spread to the rural pockets," Chatterjee said.
The championship, he said, would be played in the cadet (under 12), sub-junior (under 15), junior (under 19) and senior categories.
"Players doing doing well in the tournament will stand a chance of making it to the East Singhbhum team for an upcoming state meet in Ranchi," the secretary of the district table tennis body said.
The ten schools and clubs who have already signed up for the event include the names of three Atomic Energy Central Schools in Narwapahar, Turamdih and Jaduguda, two Jusco schools (South Park and Kadma), Central Public School (Adityapur), Dayanand Modi Public School (Chandil), ADL Society, Telco Recreation Club and Tube Recreation Club.
Chatterjee claimed that the revival of the game was partly due to the fact that they had formed a new district committee team.
"Table tennis was dormant in the city for over a decade. Then we came forward to form a new team for district committee after which it has shown positive signs of making a turnaround," he said.
And the new-found interest for the game also has helped city paddlers, who have started bagging berths in the state teams. The likes of Subhash Namta (Atomic Energy Central School, Narwapahar), Avantika Rai (Jusco School, Kadma) and Chandni Kumari of Central Public School, Adityapur, have donned state jerseys in junior national championships already.
Senior paddlers from the city have also done their bit to promote the game with two coaches ' L.N. Mitra and Gokul Kumar ' lending their expertise to brush up the skills of budding players of Atomic Energy Central Schools. "A. Dasgupta is involved in a similar exercise at the Tata Steel training centre. I am sure more paddlers will come forward and represent Jharkhand in the days to come," Chatterjee said.