by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Formulate a project that aims to provide table tennis for the impoverished areas of Buenos Aires, whilst also focusing on those with a disability and residents with a Japanese background, is the basis of the project.
It is anticipated that the project will commence in March 2018 and conclude in December 2019, a period which covers two Argentine school years.
“The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games are the perfect excuse to integrate underprivileged children with a low social status who could never access the sport without projects like this. FATM took the idea of the ITTF instantly and we started working to make it happen. From now on, we are very proud to be committed to the feeling of the Olympic legacy: “to contribute to improving, even in a small part, the lives of children”. That is priceless.” Fernando Joffre
Stag, the Indian manufacturer has agreed to provide six venues with the necessary equipment. Furthermore, coaching sessions alongside social and educational gatherings are planned. Pertinently, a twice a month a doubles tournament to encourage different target groups to form partnerships is planned. Locally the project will be co-ordinated by Soledad Tenzi in conjunction with Leandro Olvech, ITTF Director-Development
“First of all we have to consider the concept of the word bridge as something that joins two points, in this case Buenos Aires 2018 with Tokyo 2020. Then we have to understand the objective of this bridge that exceeds the achievement of medals and focuses on the development of people using sport in general and table tennis in particular as a means of teaching respect, friendship and excellence. These values are also proclaimed by the Olympic movement. At the same time, this bridge aims to reach areas in need through table tennis and to help the development of young people through inclusion and the possibility of a comprehensive sports practice.”Soledad Tenzi
Additionally the initiative is supported by the Global Sports Development Foundation and Japanese Sport for Tomorrow in addition to the International Table Tennis Federation and the Argentina Table Tennis Federation.
Most importantly the players involved will be able to visit the Youth Olympic Games and watch elite young athletes in action; undoubtedly such a visit will open eyes and provide a major motivational opportunity. Maybe a future Olympian will be discovered.
A far seeing project from which a wide range of communities may benefit one it is undoubtedly one which reflects the ethos of the Olympic movement.
“The Youth Olympic Games are always immerged in different social and cultural contexts. As an International Sports Federation it is our task to care for performance but also to look behind the scenes and leave a lasting legacy. In Argentina we see social inequality right next to the table tennis venue in Buenos Aires with many children living in difficult conditions. At the same time we see the need of higher integration of players with a disability. We see strong Japanese communities playing table tennis and a potential be further integrated to the local table tennis leagues. We see a big country surrounding the city of Buenos Aires. The Olympic Bridge will be held in six different locations. We wish to leave a positive legacy in Argentina!” Leandro Olvech
Notably, there has been a quick response the Japanese Embassy in Buenos Aires has donated US$ 70.000 to the Argentina Table Tennis Federation to purchase equipment for the project.