by Ian Marshall, ITTF publications Editor
Venue for the whole initiative was the Olympafrica Center in Niamey; impressively a total of 17 coaches from leagues throughout the country attended the ITTF/PTT Level One Course, all highly motivated and wanting to learn.
Later 28 players took part in the Training Camp, the coaches being able to put theory into practice and just, as with the coaches, there was boundless enthusiasm.
Furthermore, no less than 150 young people from the area were given the chance to try table tennis!
“The joy on the faces of the young was immense; they were all motivated. It was a great regret that we had to refuse some young people who wanted to join us. It was also an opportunity for the coaches learn to detect talent.” Kaka Lawson
Experienced Kaka Lawson motivated everyone but he was not alone with his words of encouragement. Also Mai-Moustaha, the President of the Niger Table Tennis Federation was equally positive. He addressed all present in a most inspirational manner prior to matters commencing.
“We place this course under the sign of renaissance. It is the time to exhort all of you. You are all actors in this revival; coaches, players and sports authorities in the country must get more involved and give their best reach to reach our goal and raise the level of table tennis in Niger.” Mai-Moustaha
The Niger Table Tennis Federation was accepted as a member of the International Table Tennis Federation in 2003, prior to the 2005 Francophone Games. However, the level of play is not high.
“Niger needs support because it has enormous human potential but with a shortage of qualified technical staff, a lack of equipment and adequate materials, the evolution of table tennis has slowed down; this course came at the right moment for the federation to start a policy of mass participation in table tennis. Notably, thanks to support from the Chinese government, several years ago players from Niger did spend time practising in China.”
Is a new era about to dawn? The goals of the Niger Table Tennis Federation are to be applauded; can they be put into practice?