by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Following a tour of the locality on the first day of the itinerary, Nicolas Guigon visited Pago Pago before holding meetings with various officials, including Kenneth Tupua, the President of the American Samoa Table Tennis Association and Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Soon after a busy schedule proceeded, training sessions in local schools being the first priority; Nicolas Guigon visited Aunu’u island where 36 young people aged 11 to 14 years of age were present, before continuing the next day to conduct coaching sessions for players of a similar age at the Samoa Baptist Academy.
Later, during the week he led coaching sessions at the Tafuna Elementary School, where no less than 123 students were present; this was followed by a visit to Iakina Seventh Day School, witnessed a 35 young people attended.
Worthwhile visits and there were more; at the St Theresa School in Leone the attendance was 86 in number, the players being aged eight years to 14 years. Meanwhile at the South Pacific Academy in Tafuna 12 enthusiastic players responded to the initiative.
Additional to the training sessions, a tournament was staged which witnessed some 34 players in action.
“The support provided by the American Samoa National Olympic Committee has continued to assist with the development of table tennis throughout the territory. ITTF-Oceania looks forward to continued support in developing the athletes within American Samoa and looks forward to international representation in the coming years”, Michael Brown, ITTF and Africa-Oceania Development Coordinator
Impressive numbers and a major challenge for Nicolas Guigon; only one table tennis table was available at each school, in some cases none at all!
In fact the only venue with more than one table was the seven housed in stadium near the National Olympic Committee.
A major recommendation made by Nicolas Guigon, taking into account the nature and climate of the island, is to build concrete table tennis table outdoors.
“For sure tables tennis coaches and players need to learn specific exercises, how to adapt rules and organize play on outdoor table tennis tables”, Nicolas Guigon.
A rewarding visit, matters concluded with discussions involving Pili Gaoteote, the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in addition to two of America Samoa’s leading coaches. He met Kenneth Tupua Jnr, the President’s son and Dave Godinet, the association’s leading player.