by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
Now in 2017, Tunisia is seeking more success and success on home soil.
Tunis, the capital city is the host for the ITTF-African Junior and Cadet Championships from Sunday 9th to Saturday 15th April, the tournament being followed immediately by the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Continental Qualification event on Sunday 16th and Monday 17th April.
Ramzi Mabrouk Technical Director of Tunisia Table Tennis Federation accepts that in Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are the most prominent nations but at the forthcoming continental tournaments, he believes his nation can “rock the boat”. They can cause upsets.
“Undeniably, Egypt is the best table tennis nation in Africa. It has an important and historical table tennis culture. It also has financial and human resources made available to its federation to achieve the highest international level. Nigeria is not far away. Today we start a new cycle and we changed our strategy in order to being competitive and catch up. I hope to get there at the end of this Olympiad”, Ramzi Mabrouk
Undoubtedly the fact that Safa Saidani competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has been a major boost; television appearances and extensive newspaper coverage has helped popularise table tennis in Tunisia.
“We hope to win continental titles in different categories at the Championships; we are working very diligently to arrive at that result. The Tunisian National Table Tennis Team has been preparing for this competition for a few months. We are in intensive training camps and we will participate in some international competitions in order to finally be ready on D-Day”, Ramzi Mabrouk
Well prepared and Tunisia is well prepared to welcome their guests. They are no strangers to hosting international competition. In addition to being a regular stop on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, in 2013 they held the African Senior Championships, whilst last year they staged the Arab Championships.
Furthermore, later this year, Tunisia will once again host an ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament as well as an ITTF-Africa Hopes Week and Challenge; both events will be held in the city of Rades.
The ITTF-African Junior and Cadet Championships and the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Continental Qualification will be staged in the Dome of El Menzah, the second largest sport hall in the country, located in the centre of Tunis.
Players and delegates will be accommodated at five-star hotel located near the beach in Gammarth, 20 kilometres from the Dome of El Menzah.
“We promise very good organization but it will be tough competition from our young Tunisian players”, Ramzi Mabrouk
It is for Tunisia a busy year ahead, hard work but rewarding and a situation that suggests in Africa’s most northerly country, the sport of table tennis is in a healthy state, a most healthy state.