by Jessica MacAskill, Course Conductor
The course is providing assistance to the Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association in strengthening five key areas of their operations; administration, coach education, competition structure, Para table tennis activities and increasing the awareness of table tennis as a sport.
“Strengthening our sport and developing the level of our players is key to success, especially since we are aiming for Gold in 2019”. Hasiloni Fungavai, President Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association
Notably, the timing of the course could not be more perfect as Tonga is set to host the 2019 South Pacific Games.
In the first visit many activities were initiated. The first activity started was a Table Tennis in Schools programme, targeted at eight to 12 year olds. The idea is that introducing table tennis to school children will increase their awareness of the sport assist more children becoming active through sport.
During this school term there have been 15 schools that are receiving regular visits from local coaches. The coaches not only coach the school children; also they teach basic skills to school teachers so the teachers can maintain table tennis in schools. It is a long-term programme that will introduce even more schools and children to the sport of table tennis in 2017 and beyond.
To support the schools’ programme the Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association has been providing regular after school training for everyone and evening training for the national players. Both sessions give players the opportunity to practise with guidance of coaches.
“It is great to see some of the children from the schools so keen and eager to play, often they are here before the coaches even arrive to open up. Tonga has recently joined the PSP Break Down Barriers programme, so the course is good timing as it is providing guidance and assistance for us to visit para centres ”, Hasiloni Fungavai
However, the highlight for many of the children and players is to test their skills and competitive nature; they do this by competing on a Saturday morning, as part of the recently established weekly competition.
In the past month Tonga has begun working with Mango Tree, Ofa Tui Amanaki, Alonga centres to provide activities and table tennis to the para community.
“Para visits are a great way for me to develop my coaching skills, and they are always so happy to see us. I think they really enjoy learning Table Tennis”, Tevita (coach)
Within the next few months Tonga has some other exciting opportunities planned; these include activities for the players to be involved with, such as a family fun day, and the 2016 Tonga Table Tennis Open on Saturday 26th November.
Additionally, from Monday 21st to Friday 25th November an ITTF/PTT Level One Course will be held.
“The coaches course is a great way for us to have more educated coaches and individuals who can continue to grow Table Tennis in Tonga” Hasiloni Fungavai
Overall, the course is well underway and learning is at an all-time high by all participants, coaches, children, and administrators.
The learning is fuelled by the buzz and excitement around Tonga hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.