January 26, 2008

Let us support sports, locally

Friday mornings are extremely busy times.
Our newspapers try to catch up with deadlines.
But this Friday, the phone kept ringing too often.
A headline in the sports page of The Hindu triggered the calls. A 'Mylapore Times' team had won a few rounds in a table tennis league it was participating in.
My friends wondered - so when did the newspaper have a team of its own?
A colleague thought it was a cricket team. I had to pardon her because there is lots of cricket in the newspapers too.
With Shah Rukh Khan and Priety Zinta and Mukesh Ambani paying millions to pick up the franchisee for different cricket teams in the Indian League that is to follow, a friend wondered if we did own a team and played in the local league.
Ours is a different story to share.
A. V. Vidyasagar guides the VVV Table Tennis Academy based in Besant Nagar. The VVV School, whose hall has been converted into a coaching centre, has been a great benefactor.
A talented cricketer in his sunshine days, Sagar, as friends call him, is passionate about table tennis and indulges in long rallies to promote the game.
The idea of running a league for TT on the lines of cricket league (in which he still takes part) became a reality a couple of years ago.
'Adyar Times' and 'Mylapore Times' chose to be among the supporters/sponsors.
Sagar has managed to attract a number of corporates to sponsor their players and take part in the lower division of the league or to sponsor professional state players who play in the top division.
The league, which runs from end December to late February not only promotes TT but also provides people from the IT, banking and manufacturing sectors weekends to unwind, indulge in a game they pursued in school or college and make new friends.
It takes about seven thousand rupees to sponsor a team. And the young lads who have been playing for us seem to have had a good run at the green tables.
As I write this, I look back at a copy I edited. Of a story of an autorickshaw man who has been backing a hockey team of lads from the 'kuppams' of Besant Nagar.
They practise at the uneven Corporation ground. They took part in the local league and were beaten. Because they can only afford canvas shoes and they are not used to playing on turf.
All they need is a pair of sports shoes.
Perhaps actor Vikram, who is also a Besant Nagar resident, will do a Shah Rukh Khan and sponsor this hockey team.

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