by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Important to Patrick Gillmann is to main close contact with those who guide and direct the fortunes of the young players; those who are present supporting, encouraging and advising.
“When I received the responsibility of the junior programme three years ago, I initiated this meeting with the coaches and team managers”, said Patrick Gillman. “I came from the basis, I was a coach at the beginning, and then an umpire, president and now I’m on the Executive Committee; I wanted to connect with the base, I wanted the decisions we take on the junior programme to not only come from people at the higher level but also people on the ground.”
Therefore, Patrick Gillmann organised his schedule to spend time with those who are at the heart of the initiative.
“So every year at the World Cadet Challenge, I meet all the coaches for their feedback on what can be improved on the World Cadet Challenge, World Junior Championships and the World Junior Circuit”, explained Patrick Gillmann. “After the feedback is collected, it will be forwarded to the Junior Commission meeting that will take place in Cape Town in a few weeks; after that to the Executive in Doha.”
An ITTF Executive Committee Meeting is planned to be held on the occasion of the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha later this year in December.
“I think this initiative has been much appreciated by the coaches because they know that someone within the ITTF listens to them and if decisions are taken, it’s by the majority of these people.”
A worthy initiative and on the agenda in Shanghai there was discussion on a recent innovation.
“At this year’s meeting, we discussed about the mixed doubles pairings; this is the second year that we will have mixed doubles; it’s restricted to only 16 pairs and one of the requests is whether we can have all the players involved”, added Patrick Gillmann. “However, this is only the second time we have this as part of the World Cadet Challenge, so we wait till the end of the tournament and we will ask each team manager about their opinions and depends on the majority of them, we will change on it.”
The Mixed Doubles competition involves two boys and two girls from each team but partners cannot be from the same team; the concept promotes the ethos of understanding, an integral concept within the ITTF World Cadet Challenge.
“Last year when we had the event for the first time, some players didn’t like it because they drew a weaker partner”, continued Patrick Gillmann. “I think they enjoyed it in the end; it’s a special tournament and I think the World Cadet Challenge is a good place to test new ideas.”
Try new ideas otherwise you move backwards; let us never forget the ITTF World Cadet Challenge is an educational experience, it is more than a tournament; you will never please everyone but if you don’t try you’ll not please anyone.