Sport

Table Tennis: Paddlers come under an Interim Committee

19 March 2019 - 47   - 0

A three-member Interim Committee was appointed by the Minister of Sports for the smooth function of the Sri Lanka Table Tennis Association (SLTTA), the controlling body of the game after it had failed held its Annual General Meeting for the past four years. 

At a meeting held with the Minister of Sports and the Ministry officials, national players, coaches and parents, the irregularities of the SLTTA were brought to the notice of the minister.
 
The players highlighted the failure of holding the AGM for reasons unknown and the failure to conduct the Senior and Junior Nationals, the Inter-Club All-Island League Tournament, Ashok Melvani Memorial Championship, Chris Gunaratne Memorial Tournament, which are all high ranking annual competitions. 

The 2018 Junior Nationals was played only last week. 

In addition the players brought to the minister’s attention of not allocating funds for overseas tours. 

In 2017 out of a sum of US$ 10,000, US$ 7500 was released by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) as a flood relief grant. 

But to date mystery surrounds on what happened to the money and according to sources, when the international body--ITTF inquired on the expenditure the SLTTA has failed to give any explanations. 

Table Tennis equipment worth of over US$ 8000 is currently lying unattended at a warehouse in the Sea Port of Colombo for a long period uncleared.

It is understood that the 'demurrage' fee has exceeded the initial amount of US$ 8000 as at today. 

For the last World Cup in Sweden, Sri Lanka were planning to send a team of five men and five women players. 

But only one male and two female players made the trip. 

When the team arrived at the venue without the originally nominated number of players, the ITTF had imposed a fine of 5570 Euros--a 1800 Euros each for the three players who failed to make the trip and 85 Euros each entry for men and women categories. 

But the local body had not still paid the penalty. 

According to experts this situation could have been avoided if the SLTTA officials acted promptly to inform the World Body before the team left Sri Lanka. 

Eventually the players had to face the unexpected after spending over eight hours without been accommodated by the ITTF. 

The coaches too had complained to the minister that a sum of Rs. 5000 was paid by them on the request of the SLTTA as an advance for a coaching programme for Level I, II and III coaches under the National Olympic Committee. 

The coaching programme, however, never took place to-date and the monies paid too not refunded. 

The coaches also explained that they are concerned for the talented youngsters, as their dedication and sacrifice had gone with the wind for blunders made by the officials. 

The SLTTA is yet to pay the five coaches, who accompanied the national players for the 2016 SAFF Games. Each were promised an allowance of Rs. 25,000. 

For four players and two officials who represented the country in 2018 South Asian Games in Maldives, a sum of US$ 1200 for each is still pending.

It is understood the association had obtained money from the Sports Ministry for the payments. 

It was also brought to notice of the minister that the association has not presented a budget for the upcoming South Asian Games and while the other controlling sports bodies have already conducted pool training the SLTTA is fully inactive or ignorant. 

Parents too have spoken of the hardships they undergo when their children are selected to overseas tours. 

They have come to the ministry for several days to find out about the air tickets and other travel documents, which were the duties of the officials of SLTTA. 

The parents had been kept for hours as the subject officer is either out of office or on leave. 

"It is a pity that for the sins of the officials of the SLTTA the poor players have to suffer. A game that has produced world ranked players is at a standstill as the people who hold office are only there for their personal gains and perks," a parent lamented. 

The minister considering the complaints made at the meeting took steps to appoint a three-member Interim Committee to run the SLTTA affairs with its main task to hold the Annual General Meeting as soon as possible.

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