Having had to settle for seven bronze medals in the last edition of the South Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships in Maldives, Bangladesh have set their sights higher as they get ready to host the regional championships in mid-2019.
With the aim of realising that goal, the Bangladesh Table Tennis Federation has roped in Indian coach Anshul Garg under the development programme of the International Table Tennis Federation and Asian Table Tennis Union for a short period of time.
After completing his fourth day of training 11 junior players, the 30-year-old saw potential within the Bangladeshi paddlers despite finding some problems with their basic techniques.
"Obviously the potential is there, but there are some problems with their basics. They are doing well in practice. I can tell you about [Sadia Rahman] Mou, who is doing really well. She has a lot of potential. If we work on her personally and particularly, she can win a gold or silver medal. There are also a few boys like Emon, Joy and Dev; everyone is working hard in training. If the boys and girls continue with the kind of practice I am educating them in for the next two-three years, they will definitely perform well," said Garg, who will complete his scheduled training sessions on February 4.
Referring to India, Garg said: "You should start training from the age of six or seven to get better results. The basics are very important. Here, the basics are missing among senior players. You can train the seniors but they will miss it [the basics] subconsciously during competitive games.
"Delhi has two to three thousand players who start at the age of six or seven. So when they reach 12 or 13, they have already got six years of experience before entering competitions at the state or national level. But in Bangladesh, they start at 12 or 13 and mature after at least seven to eight years. So that's why Indian players perform well at the international level also," explained Garg, who has two academies in Delhi.
Garg also added that the Indian government and Indian Table Tennis Federation have been working together to take Indian table tennis forward by investing a lot behind paddlers, who get a lot of international exposure each year.