by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Directed by the ITTF Development Programme, the initiative was made possible thanks to the financial support afforded by the International Paralympic Committee as well as locally by the Samoa Paralympic Committee and Samoa Table Tennis Association.
A total of 14 students, under the tutelage of Frenchman Nicolas Guigon, attended what was a ground breaking course; it was the first formal coach education initiative organised in Samoa for people with a disability.
“We appreciate what Nicolas has done for table tennis; this will help drive the sport forward in Samoa.” – Fusi Coffin, President Table Tennis Federation of Samoa.
Five members of group, all involved in both playing and coaching, were disabled. Three were in wheelchair classes; two were from the standing categories.
“Through the support of the International Paralympic Committee, the ITTF-Oceania Development Programme was able to offer Para Table Tennis Development Courses to both Samoa and Tahiti during 2016, which has really assisted in the continued growth and development of Para Table Tennis within Oceania. In addition to the five countries involved through the Smash Down Barriers Programme, it is likely there could be up to 10 national associations competing at the 2017 ITTF-Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships, this is double the number of national associations competing at the last PTT Championships”, Michael Brown (ITTF and Africa-Oceania Development Co-ordinator).
A successful course well received by all; furthermore, the efforts of Nicolas Guigon very much added to those of Richard McAfee from the United States.
In 2015, overall he had spent ten weeks in Samoa conducting an Olympic Solidarity supported Developing a National Sports Structure Course; the visit of Nicolas Guigon may have been shorter and with a different emphasis but equally invaluable.