07 Feb 2018

Present in the first year of the initiative in 2002, as we started proceedings in the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex in Muscat at the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open on Wednesday 7th February, the most celebrated face in the history of the ITTF World Junior Circuit, was present guiding his latest charges.

Nils-Erik Sandberg, who started Ångby Table Tennis Club in the western suburbs of Stockholm in 1956, was courtside guiding two young players born 50 years after the venerable Swede founded the celebrated club; Isak Edwardsson and Elias Sjörgen, both born in 2006, were proudly wearing the yellow shirt.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

It was to be a three-one defeat but it was a spirited effort against the Syrian duo comprising Abdul Rahman Ezzo Ajaj and Obaida Zaza.

Obaida Zaza proved the mainstay of the Syrian victory. He accounted for Isak Edwardsson (11-7, 11-7, 11-3) and Elias Sjörgen (11-1, 13-11, 11-7) whilst teaming with Abdul Rahman Ezzo Ajaj to secure the doubles (11-7, 11-0, 11-8). The one win for the Swedes was recorded by Elias Sjörgen; in the opening match of the fixture he overcame beat Abdul Rahman Ezzo Ajaj (9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11).

The contest underlined the contribution Nils-Erik Sandberg has made to the lives of so many young people; he was giving young players an opportunity to hone their skills and experience the thrill of the international arena.

“It’s supporting and teaching young players, we have a large group of young players, eleven and twelve years olds, tournaments like this in Muscat provide a splendid opportunity.” Nils-Erik Sandberg

However, for the venerable Swede, the ITTF World Circuit is more than just a table tennis tournament; it is an adventure, it is an educational experience. If there is a new destination on the calendar, write down the name of Ångby before the entry list has been opened.

In 2002 he was present in Casablanca, Platja d’Aro and Lima, three continents; this year the next stop for Ångby is the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion followed by Bangkok!

One further point to note is that everything is self-funded; the club raises every precious Swedish krona. It is an example that you can achieve if you get off your backside and stop expecting everything to be done for you!

Furthermore, the fact the opening fixture for his young fledglings was against war torn Syria, epitomises the Sandberg philosophy.

“It’s my peace keeping mission, we meet players from different countries, we become friends; we have friends all over the world. Countries fight, they throw bombs at each other; here in the table tennis hall they are friends.” Nils-Erik Sandberg

Friends and good friends; it is good for the soul; the power of table tennis.

World Junior Circuit 2018 Oman Junior & Cadet Open Nils-Erik Sandberg

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