11Even Sports to Give Table Ten­nis a ₹ 100-cr Boost

In­dus­tri­al­ist Vita Dani ties up with ex-cham­pion Kamlesh Me­hta to pro­mote the sport

The Economic Times - - Brands: Creating Desire - Gau­rav.Laghate@ times­group.com

Mumbai: Table Ten­nis, one of the fastest rac­quet-based in­door sports, is set to get a big fil­lip in In­dia as in­dus­tri­al­ist Vita Dani — wife of Asian Paints’ Jalaj Dani and cousin to Mukesh Am­bani — has com­mit­ted ₹ 100 crore over the next 10 years to pro­mote the sport in In­dia.

Dani, who also owns the Chen­nai fran­chise of the In­dian Su­per League, formed a sep­a­rate com­pany, 11Even Sports (ESPL), with eight-time na­tional table ten­nis cham­pion and Ar­juna awardee Kamlesh Me­hta to pro­mote and de­velop table ten­nis (TT) in In­dia from the grass­roots to the pro­fes­sional level.

“We have a com­pre­hen­sive plan for both grounds up as well as top down growth of TT in In­dia. We have made a com­mit­ment of in­vest­ing ₹ 100 crore in 10 years for the sport,” Dani, chair­per­son of ESPL, told ET.

ESPL’s plan in­cludes a grass­roots pro­gramme, state and na­tional level in­ter-school cham- pi­o­nships, na­tional rank­ing cham­pi­onship, cor­po­rate TT events, Mumbai Su­per League and league-for­mat In­dian Table Ten­nis League (ITTL), Dani said.

Dani’s ESPL has inked a 10-year agree­ment with the Table Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion of In­dia (TTFI) and also be­come the first pri­vate com­pany to win a bid to or­gan­ise the first ever In­ter­na­tional Table Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITTF) World Tour in In­dia start­ing Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 14.

“TT is seen played at homes, clubs, schools, col­leges, re­sorts etc. Hav­ing said that, lit­tle has been done to pop­u­late and ex­pand the pro­fes­sional foot­print of TT,” said Vinit Karnik, busi­ness head at ESP Global, the entertainment and sports prac­tices divi­sion of GroupM. TT is age and gen­der ag­nos­tic and needs min­i­mum in­fra­struc­ture.

ESPL had first an­nounced the plans to launch the In­dian TT League in May, 2016. How­ever, given the close­ness of the Rio Olympics games, the com­pany de­cided to post­pone the in­au­gu­ral sea­son to 2017. “ITTL is go­ing to be a reg­is­tered event in the ITTF cal­en­dar. They have al­ready al­lot­ted July 8-30 to us to host the league. We are in talks with ma­jor sports broad­caster to air the event,” Dani said.

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