11 Nov 2016

Situated in West Africa, virtually totally surrounded by Senegal, except for a small strip of land which borders the Atlantic Ocean; Gambia the smallest country in geographical terms on the continent’s mainland, was the recent home for an ITTF/PTT Level One Coach Education Course and Training Camp.

Supported by Olympic Solidarity and organised under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme, the expert on duty was Frenchman Nicolas Petit, with the home for the course being Banjul, the country’s capital city.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Administered in two stages; the Coach Education Course commenced on Thursday 20th October; the Training Camp, for the most promising young players in Gambia, began on Wednesday 26th October and concluded on Sunday 30th October.

A total of 14 Physical Education teachers attended the course which was followed by a five day training camp that witnessed six coaches from the Gambia Table Tennis Association in attendance. The initiative was designed to create and encourage co-operation between schools and clubs.

“Have a walk on Kololi beach on Sunday to realize the tremendous potential of sport in Gambia…football, running, volleyball, fitness…Both boys and girls involved in an intense and entertaining practice which includes all socio-economic levels. You can also notice it by walking through Senegambia, the tourist area of Banjul, where Premier League football fans know by heart the name of every single player”, Nicolas Petit.

Nicolas Petit conducts a theory session (Photo: courtesy of Nicolas Petit)


Enthusiasm for sport but the problem is a lack of resources even though substantial ITTF equipment packages in were received in 2003, 2006 and 2012, as well as courses staged in 2003, 2004, 2006,2011 and 2014. More assistance is still needed.

“Thanks to the support of the Gambia National Olympic Committee, an originally planned ITTF-Africa Development Course was due to take place in Gambia, which will now take place in 2017, due to an Olympic Solidarity Technical Course grant funding this recent course”, Michael Brown ITTF and Africa-Oceania Development Co-ordinator

Putting theory into practice (Photo: courtesy of Nicolas Petit)


Nevertheless, the Gambia Table Tennis Association is positive and has noted the success of the most recent Inter School Championships; their vision is to develop table tennis on grassroots level, especially in school. The importance of promoting the sport in schools is not only to encourage young people but also because there is a paucity of table tennis clubs.

“A friendly atmosphere and a high level of motivation made the course really productive and enjoyable to experience, thanks to the appreciated assistance of the Gambia Table Tennis Association coaches. The improvement was really significant, despite the daily 35 degrees heat”, Nicolas Petit.

Play at the Training Camp (Photo: courtesy of Nicolas Petit)


A private Facebook group was created to encourage teachers and coaches to share their best practices thus learn from each other.

“The training camp demonstrated the great job done by the treasurer Cessay; he coaches every single day at the Independence Football Stadium, even if the hall dedicated to table tennis has been replaced by a gym. Again high female participation has been noticed”, Nicolas Petit 

Kindly Nicolas Petit donated second hand equipment collected in from members of his French club to give to players and coaches.

Time to visit the beach with (front row far right) Nicolas Petit (Photo: courtesy of Nicolas Petit)
High Performance and Development Nicolas Petit