by Michael Brown, Course Conductor (ITTF and Africa-Oceania Development Co-ordinator)
Since James Ji became President of the Guam Table Tennis Federation in 2009, progress has ensued.
Private sponsors have been sourced; by 2014, every school on the island (elementary, middle and high) had all received table tennis tables, as well as all the 21 Village Mayor Council Offices.
There are now over 200 tables spread across the island. It is a unique situation in which equipment actually isn’t an issue. However, the promotion of the sport is taking longer than initially hoped, in as island which is a United States territory and has a strong affinity to basketball, baseball and American football.
Visits were made to a number of high schools, who have since purchased their own additional tables, with three high schools having over 10 tables each.
The week-long visit focused on the next stage of the development of table tennis, by formalising an agreement with the Guam Department of Education, to implement an Interscholastic Table Tennis League for the eight public middle schools.
Following an initial meeting with the Guam Department of Education, the next few days saw visits to all eight Public Middle Schools, each school agreed to be involved in the inaugural Interscholastic Table Tennis League. For the 2016-17 school year the League will be funded by Guam Table Tennis Federation, with financial support from the ITTF-Oceania Development Programme.
It is envisaged that moving forward, the Guam Department of Education will fund the Table Tennis League, as they do eight other sports. The funding provided by the Guam Department of Education includes coaches’ salaries for all eight schools, as well as financial support towards officials, close to US$15,000 support on an annual basis.
The establishment of the Interscholastic Table Tennis League is a milestone in the development of table tennis in Guam; the next milestone is the establishment of an Interscholastic Table Tennis League amongst the High Schools.
Discussions have already commenced with the University of Guam in developing a table tennis course within the School of Education to assist with educating Physical Education teachers in how to coach table tennis.