by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Host city for proceedings was Herat, located in the west of the country, close to the borders of both Iran and Turkmenistan.
The original plan was to stage the matters in the capital, Kabul, but explosions in the city, concerns regarding safety, meant a new destination was required.
Thanks to the flexibility demonstrated by Olympic Solidarity, the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee and in particular Heleena Kakar, on behalf of the Afghanistan Table Tennis Federation, proceedings were quickly organised in Heart. Currently, Herat is regarded the securest city in the country.
“Although the equipment was not suitable, the participants were enthusiastic and talented; disappointments and concerns were forgotten. Among the participants were former National Team players. All the coaches participated in the course actively and clearly enjoyed the topics and subjects which were discussed”, Jamil Lotfollahnasabi
Overall, a total of 28 students, 15 men and 13 women men attended; of whom 17 of the total number, eight men and nine women, participated in the ITTF/PTTF Level One Course. Meanwhile, six men and six women were present at the Training Camp, all being members of the National Team, preparing for the forthcoming 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games to be staged in Baku, Azerbaijan from Friday 12th to Monday 22nd May.
Geographically, five cities were represented. In addition to Herat which provided seven men; four men and three women travelled from Kabul, from each of Mazar-e-Sharif and Jozjan; there was one man and five women whilst from Helmand, two men made the journey.
“Table tennis in Afghanistan is not so popular among the people; it needs government support to develop”, Jamil Lotfollahnasabi
The Afghanistan Table Tennis Federation with the co-operation of the Herat Table Tennis Association provided facilities for the course; six table tennis tables plus a sufficient supply of balls, in addition to crutches for the Para element, were provided.