18 Apr 2017

For two weeks, Africa's best young players converged in Tunisia for the 2017 ITTF Tunisia Junior and Cadet Open, 2017 ITTF African Junior & Cadet Championships and Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers and one man that carried the burden of staging befitting competitions is Lotfi Guerfel, President of the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Media Officer

The trained accountant was a happy man after the success of the three tournaments held in two cities in Tunisia.

Rades hosted the 2017 ITTF Tunisia Junior and Cadet Open while Tunis was the venue for the 2017 ITTF African Junior & Cadet Championships as well as the Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers.

A contempt and satisfied Lotfi Guerfel believes with more support from the world table tennis ruling body – ITTF, Tunisia is capable of staging more major global competitions in near future.

“I am very satisfied with the success of the events and we are motivated to want to do more in promoting and developing table tennis. I think all the tournaments were successful events and we have the possibility to do better if African teams adhere to deadline of events by confirming their participation on time in order to have good hospitality…

… In the past, we usually host international tournaments like the African Championships in 2013; China in Africa Training Camp in 2014; ITTF Hopes Week in 2015; Arab Championships and Hopes Week in 2016, while this year, we hosted the Hopes Week and the African Junior and Cadet Championships and altogether we have hosted 11 editions of ITTF Junior and Cadet Opens. So hosting tournaments becomes easier from year to year and we are more experienced in this. But the challenge now is to host important tournaments like the World Cadet Challenge and World Championships among others”, Lotfi Guerfel said.

He however, appealed, “For us we want ITTF to increase their financial support to the organiser, while support should be given in area of flooring and other equipment (TV scoring and tablets for umpires) with the aim of making the events more attractive.”

He was particularly pained that one of Africa’s superpowers – Nigeria failed to make it to the African Junior & Cadet Championships, which he admitted would have made the tournament more glamorous considering the quality of the West African team following their performance during the Youth Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“I can tell you categorically that we missed Nigerian team because they would have added glamour to the tournament. However, the performance of talented players from Egypt, Tunisia, Congo Brazzaville, Algeria, and South Africa among others raised the standard of the championship. Unfortunately, we missed the Nigerian team…

… With more players taking part in any hosted events, it can help to reduce travelling costs and we can have equipment package and these players can have better results. I believe that hosting events can be used to promote table tennis more and more while we should also consider the economic factor when staging this kind of event”, Lotfi Guerfel.

For the two gold medals achieved by Tunisia at the African Junior Championship, he said: “I think the medals will give the players more energy to do better in future and for the youngest players to desire to emulate the winners.”

He also singled out the quality of articles churned out by the ITTF Africa, Media Officer, which he said helped to give the players voice at global level.

“I must also acknowledge the great work done by the ITTF Africa, Media Officer before and during the tournament with more articles on the ITTF and ITTF Africa websites as well social media and I want to say that this really helped to promote table tennis in Africa. I must commend the ITTF Africa, Media Officer for a very good job,” Lotfi Guerfel.

2017 African Junior & Cadet Championships 2017 ITTF-Africa Junior and Cadet Championships Lotfi Guerfel

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