by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Carlos Esnard, Technical Director – El Salvador Table Tennis Federation)
The tournament has one very clear goal; it is that of encouraging young people to play table tennis; providing a worthwhile opportunity.
Now for many years, the El Salvador Table Tennis Federation has worked alongside JICA (Japan International Co-operation Agency), an organisation which organises volunteers to travel abroad and help developing countries. IMDER is the San Salvador Institute for Sport and Recreation (Instituto Municipal de Deporte y Recreación de San Salvador).
Prior to the commencement of proceedings and true to the best traditions of the small Central American country, an opening ceremony was held.
Notably present was Victor Hugo Mata, the President of the El Salvador Table Tennis Federation and Krisia García, from INDES, the El Salvador National Institute of Sport (Instituto Nacional de los Deportes de El Salvador). They were in attendance alongside Alvaro Argueta, the Head of the IMDER Operational Department and Yumiko Ishihama, the Co-ordinator for JICA in El Salvador.
Victor Hugo Mata highlighted the importance of the Nittaku Dream Building Project established several years ago to support the growth of table tennis in El Salvador. Additionally, he expressed his thanks to all the sponsors for making it possible for young people to be able to compete in the tournament; in particular he highlighted the fact that the Japanese government has now supported El Salvador for over 50 years.
“I want to thank the Japanese government for supporting table tennis with the provision of volunteers. They have helped table tennis grow and have made the Nittaku Dream Building Project possible. I welcome all participants, enjoy the tournament and respect your opponents.” Victor Hugo Mata
Likewise, Krisia Garcia thanked Japan for the support afforded over many years; in particular she noted the outstanding voluntary efforts that had been made.
Similarly Alvaro Argueta was most positive. He was clearly delighted to be involved in the activities which can have a positive effect on the lives of young people, a view that was shared by Yumiko Ishihama.
“For JICA, events like this are of the utmost importance; this event is especially very special, because we are approaching the celebration of the 50 years of volunteer programmes in El Salvador. The theme of sport is always paramount for us, because it is the best way to prevent violence and motivate young people to build a culture of peace.”Yumiko Ishihama
Proceedings concluded with Aida Michelle Diaz, from Perquin in the Morazan Department in the east of the country, who started playing table tennis as a result of Nittaku Dream Building, swearing the oath of fair play and sportsmanship.