Tennis may not be a very popular game in Bangladesh, but many Bangladeshis found a way of living in the game through coaching in abroad.
One of the pioneer Bangladeshi tennis coaches in abroad is Sukumar Roy, who is currently working in Beijing-based Asaki Tennis Club, grooming up age-level elite and ITF high-performance players.
The 56-year old coach joined the Broadwell Tennis Academy in Beijing in 2005 as ITF level-2 certified coach to work with nearly 400 kids but left the job at the end of 2006 to join the Beijing International Tennis Academy.
He served the academy for at least a decade before taking up his current position as general manager and head coach in 2017.
Speaking to New Age at the National Tennis Complex in Ramna, Roy said currently about 20 Bangladeshi tennis coaches are working in China – five of them recruited by him.
Once a player, who had no money to buy racket or tennis shoes, Roy said he is now drawing a monthly wage of $5,000 along with other facilities in China.
‘Once I had no good racket and had no money to buy a pair of shoes. As a player I was good but I could not stay long for a financial crisis. It’s okay now as I am in good shape,’ said Roy, who started his first job in Beijing with a monthly salary of $1000.
Father of a daughter, Roy started to play tennis in 1974 at the age of 11 and in six-year time he emerged as national Under-18 champion in 1980 before becoming junior national runner-up in 1981 and 1982.
He became a national player in 1984 but his playing career did not progress the way he had expected. While continuing as a player, he took the job of tennis coach in Chattogram Club in 1981.
His friend Nurul Islam, an officer of the Bangladesh Navy, helped Roy get his first job in China in 2005 and he never looked back.
His job got easier in China after tennis started getting popular in the country once Li Na became women’s singles champion in French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014.
Roy wishes to come back home and serve Bangladesh if he gets an opportunity.
‘Of course, I have great hope to return to the country. I can serve my country if the federation wants. My door is open as a coach. I become a coach with Bangladeshi money and China got me ready. But Bangladesh is always in my heart,’ he said.
He believes that with a concerted effort and with the right person in the right place Bangladesh can also get some success in tennis despite its numerous problems and limitations, including unavailability of courts.
‘We need cooperation among coaches, organisers and sponsors for the development,’ said Roy.
‘If we hope big, we need team players and club teams….big, big companies also should come forward.
‘We have potential. Only talk will not work, we need to act, hunt talent from school level. I feel that the right person is not in the right place. So, tennis is suffering. It’s a great barrier for us,’ he said.
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