by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Prayers were said before the beating of the drums and table tennis; fun matches to encourage young people to play the sport.
Players travelled from Nahanni Bute, Sambaa K’e, Jean Marie River, Wrigley, Fort Simpson and Fort Providence; all in a buoyant mood.
“Table tennis in the Northwest Territories is growing rapidly. It is exciting to see more and more people getting involved and active. We’ve reached 13 communities, 19 schools and over 2,500 children have played the amazing game of table tennis. We will be bringing even more table tennis tables into the North, so by the end of April we will have a total of 60 new professional tables here; achieved in only two years!” Thorsten Gohl.
Notably present was Steve Rowe from Aerobic Table Tennis, no stranger to the area having witnessed the splendours of the northern lights last year.
“Such an amazing programme helps us to connect the kids with healthy living, fundamental movements, music and much more. Even more importantly, it keeps the kids warm, in a safe place. It is a far cry from the isolation and pain of past residential schools.” Thorsten Gohl
Furthermore Steve Rowe was clearly delighted to return to an area of the world where table tennis is growing at a rapid pace.
“What a fantastic experience celebrating World Table Tennis Day with Table Tennis North and the youth of Fort Simpson. It was made even more special by the event taking place at the very spot where Pope John Paul II attended in 1987, the home of the world’s largest outside wooden tepee.” Steve Rowe
Also present was Marny Twigge, Vice President Table Tennis North and like Steve Rowe most enthusiastic.
“As a new Territorial Sport Organization our main goal is to tell everyone about our sport. We feel success in that we are reaching many of the northern communities. It is very important to build role models in the community. Mikaela Vandell is an example. From the small community of Fort Providence, she was two times an Athlete for the Arctic Winter Games in 2014 and 2016. She became a coach in 2015, helped with the community in 2016 and then became a Board of Director of Table Tennis North in 2016. Just amazing!” Marny Twigge
High praise for Mikaela Vandell who is also delighted with the progress that has been made; she and is now clearly highly motivated.
“It is just amazing on how the sport of table tennis is growing in the Northwest Territories. We are a small Territor, but we are all in this together and there is so much support from the government, non-profit organizations like the Mackenzie Recreation Association and North West Territories Parks and Recreation plus of course, local and family businesses. When we started two years ago nobody could imagine it growing as fast as it has.” Mikaela Vandell
Unquestionably a successful venture; in North West Territories it was table tennis for everyone, table tennis here there and everywhere.