In an exclusive interview with DafaNews: It is a tale of enthusiasm meeting chances – and Sumra is grateful for the time-to-time opportunities. Nevertheless, sanguine Rameez has enjoyed his long walk in the game – and now bats for a change, to produce outstanding athletes.
Interview and photos by: By Tahir Ibn Manzoor
Rameez Liyakatali Sumra’s curiosity for table tennis—was sparked by an abandoned rusty table when he was just ten—at a government sports club in Gujarat – and it is an obsession that has seen him go on to play at the locally-held competitions with such grit and passion. There on, Rameez developed a wholehearted interest, to become an integral professional for the whiff-whaff sport.
This is how – Rameez, who has recently completed his online sports management programme through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began his journey to prove credentials beyond the comfort.
“At the age of ten, I started playing table tennis in the town of Gujarat’s Dhrangadhra. There was a government sports club where I actually played table tennis,” Rameez, told DafaNews in an exclusive interview.
The 25-year-old Rameez, who now prepares for civil services, has been a prodigy on the table tennis court – to unsettle his opponents with his pinpoint accuracy and never say die attitude.
When asked how you picked table tennis as a sport, Sumra credited his maternal uncle (mamu) for helping him to try his hand in indoor sports. This is how Rameez picked table tennis to rule the roost.
It is all but interesting how Rameez started developing an interest in table tennis. One day, he went out with his maternal uncle who himself was a cricket enthusiast.
“I vividly remember it now when I went outside for a long walk with mama; he was often playing cricket there in the vicinity of his area. As soon as I saw a table tennis court I requested mamu that I would play a little bit of ping-pong. After that, I developed a keen interest to use the paddle,” Rameez said.
During his heydays – Rameez trained extremely hard under the sweltering sun before turning on the tables. He believes there’s a massive opportunity in terms of becoming a table tennis player.
“During my days of yore, I was very excited, because I knew I would be training with my mamu, who had plenty of experience,” Rameez recalled.
After doing wonders in the state-bound competitions – the promising youngster Rameez also represented his state-side thrice at the national level.
“I participated in school and district-level competition to gain much-needed confidence. I also participated in the Gujarat government scheme—Khel Mahakumbh (mega sports festival) where I got the first rank. There on, I took part at University level. I also played at national level on three occasions,” Rameez maintained.
Despite facing daunting challenges, Rameez has never forgotten how the seed of table tennis was planted. He hopes to train his passionate wards free of cost.
In his early days, it wasn’t a cinch for Rameez, who had to walk miles to train multiple times a week.
However, it was worth it, because the tennis bug had bitten him for all the good reasons.
Owing to the conduit between the table tennis – and the civil services preparation, Rameez had vowed to back the youngsters – who are facing financial constraints – and are equally keen to get trained under him at some point of time.
As Rameez has surveyed the congealed maidans filled with a different set of sports including cricket—he is pretty aware that there is a long way for the table tennis, in terms of bossing the game and providing access and opportunity to the table tennis enthusiasts especially in Gujarat.
“Personally, I grew up knowing that cricket is a much-followed sport in Gujarat. And, I always wanted to do something different. I knew if want to excel I need to continue playing like my way. My aim is to nurse youngsters,” Rameez stated.
The journey Rameez has taken thus far – has been intriguing, he is hopeful to see a better tomorrow with a paddle in hand – to bask the glory on the court.
Rameez, whose inspiration has been his father, has risen through ranks is being commended for his efforts and progress. He also maintained that he had been lucky enough to get hold of the equipment since being young, which further helped him not to regret the choices he made during his career despite facing strong competition in the western coast of India.
Rameez, who made a lot of friends throughout his table tennis journey—is proud to have fallen in love with the sport which brought him comfort since 2005. He also trained at academies like – Shishukunj Table Tennis Academy, Zalawad Sports Club, and St. Xavier Loyola Academy.
Interestingly, at Shishukunj TT Academy – he had also trained students who later represented at the national level.
In 2017, Rameez became the L1 international certified table tennis coach under the tutelage of veteran Course Conductor for ITTF High Performance and Development – Christian Lillieroos. Rameez has done an incredible job by training at least 24 students who have brought laurels from time to time.
“I have completed an international coaching course under a US-based coach. Now, I train at least two dozen youngsters who have won many medals,” Rameez boasted.
Despite Rameez resigning from Gujarat’s coaching role, he is aiming to prepare for civil services examination—to become an IAS officer in a bid to promote sports in India including the community sports.
“I recently resigned from the Sports Authority of Gujarat. Now, I am currently preparing for civil service exams. It is my dream to become an IAS officer to promote Indian players and Indian sports. I also want to prepare athletes and win the World Cup in Table Tennis for India,” Rameez added.
Rameez’s growing reputation could be understood by him looking at his mentors and improving himself through different courses and it ultimately led to bigger things. He had joined his wards at Commonwealth and Asia Games.
“I will continue to work hard and try to promote table tennis at length and breadth,” Rameez concluded.
It is a tale of enthusiasm meeting chances – and Rameez is grateful for the opportunities. He has enjoyed his long walk in the game.
Concurrently, Rameez Liyakatali Sumra is in Mumbai and takes out his time – to train himself for professional table tennis tournaments.