10 Jan 2017

In October 2006, Sarah Hanffou founded Ping Sans Frontières (PSF); she wanted to use table tennis as a sport to promote education among young people.

Now more than one decade later, often operating in close harmony with the ITTF Development Programme, the non-profit organisation has continued to break new ground but President and Founder is not complacent. She believes there are many more fields to explore in 2017.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

The focus is to ensure that not only more young people benefit; also new regions of the world are explored.

Crowned African champion in 2010 in her native Cameroon, a former member of the French Junior Girls’ Team, Sarah Hanffou is an example of combining education with high level sport. Based in Paris, she is a fully qualified lawyer; she sets an example for other young people.

Now, she combines coaching with her profession; increasingly in 2016, she conducted courses organised under the umbrella of the ITTF Development Programme.

Sarah Hanffou reflects on the efforts of Ping Sans Frontières and looks to the future….

If 2015 was marked by the development of programmes in French disadvantaged areas; the year 2016 witnessed international development. We have developed partnerships in Africa, such as in Kenya or Nigeria. Indeed, PSF entered into a partnership with the Kenyan and Nigeria Table Tennis Associations and with Bishop Lavis Table Tennis Club in Cape Town.

Also, in 2016 there was a marked first presence in Central America inEl Salvador and in French Polynesia in Tahiti. PSF has also created a partnership between the Tornado Club in Cayes, Haiti and a table tennis club in Nîmes France.

PSF carried out a self-funded mission in Haiti in April; this mission included a Basic Umpires Training Course certified by ITTF, a launching of a partnership, as well as participation by the Tornado Club in World Table Tennis Day in Cayes.

Also, equipment donations were made to countries like Bangladesh, Kenya , Haiti, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Tahiti and Uganda.

In the same year prominent table tennis players joined the PSF team of ambassadors.

For example: African icons, Segun Toriola and African defending champion, Olufunke Oshonaike. Europeans stars like Dimitij Ovtcharov also joined the team. All these projects were done thanks to the increased contribution from the French clubs to support programmes. Last but not the least, in 2016 we celebrated the 10th birthday of PSF. We intend to present several photo exhibitions of table tennis events in France and abroad.

PSF was funded by volunteers and is still so. We are all volunteers, apart from one former intern who was hired in September 2016. It is not always easy to manage this willingness with personal and professional constraints.

Our finances are mostly from donations. It would be preferable to have more people donating and find private support in order to implement more projects. If we want so, we will absolutely need to hire one or two more persons and for that we need more financial resources.

The ITTF is one of our biggest supporters; we signed a memorandum of understanding in 2014. I do think that we have the same goals and passion, the development of table tennis everywhere and for everybody. We benefit from their expertise. They also give us the opportunity to make equipment donations when a PSF member is appointed for an ITTF mission. It has helped us transporting sport equipment in many countries.  We would like to thank same for their support.

This year, we would like to reinforce our actions through our partners, organize more activities on the World Table Tennis Day and expand our network of partners. Our priority is the beneficiaries and consequently to perpetuate our existing programmes and develop new ones, so that more children around the world, can benefit from our programme.

Also, there is no fixed number of countries we want to visit this year and our challenge each year is to do better than the previous year. Quality of our programmes is much more important to us that the quantity.

We will continue on the same dynamic. Some projects were completed in 2016 and we will be launching new ones with our partners in the coming months. We will continue to work closely with our partners: Djibouti, Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and Ivory Coast for instance.

In particular, we want to support them in grassroots programmes and specifically those targeting young girls, disabled people and underprivileged children.  We will continue to support them both on project development in favour of education but also materially. Among the programmes are Para table tennis in Nigeria and the “Let Girls’ Play” program in Kenya. We are currently working on a project with the Ivorian Table Tennis Federation for the Francophone Games.

PSF has indeed impacted many countries since 2006.  In 2016, happy smiles could be seen in the following countries: Haiti, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Algeria, Tahiti, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.

Notably, thanks to the support of the ITTF, it really feels satisfying to be able to touch many lives of young boys and girls, adults, youths from disadvantaged back grounds.

There is a way of touching someone’s life using table tennis. We are all convinced that sport and table tennis in particular can change people’s life and convey wonderful values. There is still a lot to do though.”

Top players who wish to help us can be welcomed as ambassadors. We would also appreciate their involvement in the various proposed activities, such as organising training camps where they can be role models, a spokesperson for the youth within the country and help us raise funds to achieve the goal of raising educated athletes across the continent.

High Performance and Development Coaching Sarah Hanffou