by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
Now following the 2017 Eastern African Regional Championships, the President of Mauritius Table Tennis Association, Vimal Basanta Lala believes they are ready to host the 2018 African Senior Championships.
In his recent interview he expressed his views.
“After the regional tournament, we will host the African Senior Championships in August or September 2018; also, we are also in the middle of preparations to host the Indian Ocean Games in 2019. So hopefully this will take our playing level and organization capability to a different level.
I don’t think it will be that hard to stage these competitions because two years ago we organized an ITTF World Junior Circuit and African Junior Championships here in Mauritius; we hosted about 10 countries. So I am confident that we have the requisite experience and what it takes to make things happen.
We have had this facility since 2002 and we are one of the fortunate countries in Africa to have a designated gymnasium just for table tennis and nothing else. So we are proud of it and hope the ITTF will make good use of the facility. We have requested to have Africa training sessions and camps based here in Mauritius, we can put this gymnasium at the disposal of Africa. Though it is owned by the government, it is at the disposal of the Mauritius Table Tennis Association.
I must say we have invested a lot in youth and a number of baby-ping projects where we take children from six years old, this has shown recently in our National Championship with two boys of 13 years of age making it to the semi-final of the senior men’s category. We are seeing positive rewards.
Over the past few months we have seen many 14-year-olds break into the national senior team and hopefully in five years we are targeting bronze at the African Championship level. I think it is difficult at this juncture for a country like Mauritius to defeat Egypt and Nigeria but I am sure at this rate we can try to put a good fight against Algeria and Tunisia.
Universally, challenges are more or less the same- the more the cash you have the easier it is to effect development. You know table tennis is not like football and athletics. It is a ‘poor ‘ sport in developing countries. Somehow we keep trying our best with the limited resources to make the difference. As much as football is a cut above the rest, which is a trend in Africa, we have people with good faith who are willing to take the game forward.
It has been a while since the Eastern region has been dormant; so after the setting up of the East African Committee, the Mauritius Table Tennis Association definitely wanted to do something beneficial and that’s why we put our heads together and approached ITTF and our Regional President, Andrew Mudibo to support the organisation of this event. For us we feel very proud to get something moving in the region and hopefully this can carry on to be a good cooperation among member counties.
I must say we are very happy to see countries like Uganda, who we have not seen in recent international tournaments to be here as our guests.”