by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the helm of proceedings was Egypt’s Ahmed Dawlatly, a person who is no stranger to such situations where sport is the tool for social change.
He was the expert on duty in 2008 for a joint project organised by the International Table Tennis Federation in liaison with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at the Kharaz camp in Yemen
“Turkey now hosts the world’s largest community of Syrians displaced by the ongoing conflict in their country. According to United Nation estimates, Turkey’s Syrian refugee population was more than two million as of January 2017; the large unregistered refugee population may mean the true figure is even larger”, Ahmed Dawlatly
In Turkey, organised under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme, the initiative was realised thanks to the co-operation of four major organisations: the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), the “Education Programme for Syrian Refugees and Host Communities” of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German Table Tennis Association (DTTB) and the Abdel Kader Alsankary Foundation.
“ITTF and DTTB are using table tennis as a vehicle for social change and aim to bring table tennis to everyone around the world. GIZ has also a similar vision when it comes to using sport, especially table tennis as a tool for social development.” Ahmed Dawlatly
Intensive workshops were held from Saturday 13th to Monday 15th May in Gaziantep and from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th May in Sanliurfa; matters concluded with a festival on Friday 19th May in Gaziantep.
Pertinently the workshop in Gaziantep was supported by the Abdel Kader Alsankary Foundation.
An average of 25 students attended each workshop; table tennis the theme, social development, sport education, physical education and skill levels were addressed as well as gender equality, voluntary work, civic duties, project management and fund raising.
“A special programme has been designed with main objective the implementation of extra-curricular educational sport programmes at schools and community centres with a a focus on intercultural exchange between Turkish and Syrian children and adolescents.” Ahmed Dawlatly
Notably there was a wide diversity of participants; additional to table tennis players, there were coaches, swimmers, footballers and experts in martial arts players.
All added to the occasion to a most congenial atmosphere; one that underlined theme of the venture.
A successful endeavour; it was made possible thanks to Sevda Akgün, the DOSB Officer for Sport Development in Turkey who worked in liaison with Jasmin Dirinpur and Ali Almana from GIZ.
Also in Gaziantep, thanks are owed to Abdulrahman Alsankari, Manager of Sankari Foundation and in Sanliurfa to Jalal Alali, Head of Sanliurfa Syrian Sport Committee.