11Even Sports to Give Table Tennis a ₹ 100-cr Boost
Industrialist Vita Dani ties up with ex-champion Kamlesh Mehta to promote the sport
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.