28 Sep 2016

Bronze in Men’s Singles Class 6 secured by Rungroj Thainiyom plus later in the proceedings the same colour in Men’s Team Class 3 by Anurak Laowong and Uttajak Gunbancheun; that was the lot of Thailand at the recent Rio Paralympic Games which concluded on Sunday 18th October.

Immediately ensuing the activities in Rio de Janeiro, an ITTF/PTT Level One Course was staged in Bangkok; organized under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme, proceedings commenced on Monday 19th September and concluded on Saturday 24th September.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The expert on duty was Richard McAfee from the United States of America; venue for the whole itinerary was the Alexander Hotel.

“Notably 14 the coaches came from the Para Table Tennis Community”, said Richard McAfee. “Several current Para Athletes also were members of the course.”

A major aim of the initiative was to build on the efforts of Rungroj Thainiyom, Anurak Laowong and Uttajak Gunbancheun in Rio de Janeiro.

“The Sports Association for the Disabled of Thailand recently received a grant from the International Table Tennis Federation’s “Smash Down Barriers Programme” which is proudly supported by the Australian Government”, explained Richard McAfee. “Working with Christian Holtz, Sport for Development Manager for Smash Down Barriers and the Sports Association for the Disabled of Thailand in conjunction with the Table Tennis Association of Thailand, it was decided to hold an ITTF/PTT Level One Course and also a “Para Fun Day” to promote Table Tennis to the Disabled Community in Thailand.”

A full schedule and it was a busy time for Richard McAfee, the previous week, also in Bangkok, he had conducted an ITTF Level Two Course and Training Camp.

Members of the ITTF/PTT Level One Coaches course in Bangkok

“For six days the course participants worked hard learning the coaching skills necessary to work with both the abled body and Para athletes”, continued Richard McAfee. “All of the Thai Coaches successfully passed their practical course exam on the last day but the real exam was to take place following day as the coaches would be showing off their new skills at the Para Fun Day.”

Invitations were sent to various Para clubs and organisations who work with the disabled in Thailand to attend the “Fun Day”; an introduction to table tennis.

“Much to everyone’s delight, more than 100 disabled persons of all ages showed up to learn more about the sport”, continued Richard McAfee. “This included many children and also persons with intellectual disabilities.”

Also there was a bonus.

“As the ballroom at the Alexander Hotel filled to overflowing with the Fun Day participants, members of the Thailand Paralympic Team arrived wearing their medals and they were warmly received”, added Richard McAfee. “After a quick exhibition by the Paralympic bronze medallists, the new Thai coaches quickly set up six fun stations where the participants learned the basics of how to play.”

Everyone responded to the spirit of the occasions.

“The Table Tennis Association of Thailand did a wonderful job of organizing the day with lots of prizes given out and a television crew on hand to catch all the action”, stressed Richard McAfee. “The joy and excitement in the hall was a testament to the ability of the coaches to use their new ITTF/PTT Level 1 Skills to effectively teach the disabled.”

It was an occasion to remember as was the conclusion of affairs; a top class lunch concluded matters.

“A great deal of credit for the success of this event must go to of Sakul Ariyachotima, Deputy Secretary General of the Table Tennis Association of Thailand, for all his help in organizing the ITTF-PTT Level One Course as well as the Para Fun Day”, concluded Richard McAfee. “Also, to Don Mudtangam, the Table Tennis Association Secretary General, for giving up his normal work as a television sports broadcaster all week, to donate his exceptional translating skills to make the ITTF-PTT Level One Course and Fun Day a big success.”

Once again, the well-used phrase rings true, table tennis is the sport for all; the fact underlined in Thailand.

Lunch an ideal way to end the day

Development, Education and Training Richard McAfee