by Michael Brown, Course Conductor (ITTF and Africa-Oceania Development Co-ordinator)
Several meetings were held over the two days, including a meeting with the Northern Marianas Sports Association, as well as the Mayor’s Office and the Public School System.
The Northern Marianas Table Tennis Federation was established as part of the visit, the organisation will supersede the Marianas Amateur Table Tennis Association; the President of the national association will be Ted Deleon Guerrero.
All meetings provided positive assurance about the interest of table tennis throughout the Northern Mariana Islands and following a recent government approval to build a casino on Saipan, the potential for table tennis to grow on the island is enormous.
The Imperial Pacific Resort is touted as the most expensive casino complex to ever be constructed. A proposed budget of seven billion dollars; it will create thousands of jobs, as well as improvements to infrastructures throughout Saipan.
Undoubtedly, the potential to host major international events within the resort itself, also provides opportunities to develop table tennis within the islands.
Importantly, the Public School System will also look at ways in which their 10,000 students across 12 schools can gain access to table tennis.
Thanks to the support of Stag, sponsors of the ITTF-Oceania Development Programme, an equipment package including six tables, six nets and post sets, 80 rackets and eight gross of balls will be delivered to Northern Marianas this year.