by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
They seek him here, they seek him there; the hunted man is Mohammed Atoum.
A highly respected course conductor for the ITTF Development Programme and former national coach for his native Jordan, Mohammed Atoum moved to Oman in 2015 to assume the role of national coach; his influence is evident.
Notably last year in August, Oman hosted the 16th Arab Cup, prior to later in the year in December, staging the Oman Fiber Optic Open. Now a World Junior Circuit tournament is the order of proceedings, moreover, it is a Premium Series event, entering in the second tier underlines the growing confidence in the Arabian Peninsula country.
“We believed we could hold a Premium event, we have a very good group of people; they all pull together.” Mohammed Atoum
Unassuming, shunning the limelight; promoting table tennis motivates Mohammed Atoum. He doesn’t seek self-glorification or high office; his reward is the self-satisfaction that the goals set are achieved.
“In January 2017 we thought it would be possible to host an ITTF World Junior Tournament, we thought it would not only help Oman but also all the Gulf countries and other Arab countries such as Iran, as well as from farther afield Pakistan and India.” Mohammed Atoum
Undoubtedly a promising start has been made; driving to the venue, some 100 lamp posts are adorned with banners advertising the tournament, there is three hours live coverage on the Oman Sports Television Channel with perhaps more to follow. Furthermore, the practice hall houses eight tables, like the main hall, all new or used on just one occasion.
“The Municipality of Muscat organised the banners, Omantel, Oliban and Oman Fiber Optic have all supported; also we work closely with Sabco, a marketing company in Muscat. I think we are moving in a good direction, good people, willing to work; we have now several training centres and I think in the next few years will achieve good results.” Mohamed Atoum
Most certainly the ingredients are in place and Oman is ambitious; an ITTF World Tour tournament is very much in the thoughts for next year.