10 Feb 2018

Turn the clock back to the start of the African Championships and the name of Ghana stood tall; Emmanuel Quaye was the first ever Men’s Singles champion, he won in 1962 in Alexandria, he regained the title six years later in Lagos.

Similarly, Ethel Jacks won the Women’s Singles title on home soil in 1968 in Accra, prior to retaining the title in the next edition of the tournament, 1974 in Alexandria.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

Now, those days are long gone but one man, Derek Abrefa, is determined they should return. He is on a mission to restore Ghana’s glory.

The Commonwealth Games is very much in his mind but first on the agenda is the 2018 Africa Top 16 Cup to be staged in Nairobi from Thursday 1st to Saturday 3rd March.

He explained:

“The likes of Emmanuel Quaye and Ethel Jacks won many laurels for Ghana and we were the toast of Africa. Unfortunately after the demise of India merchant, D. G. Hathiramani, who used the fund the sport, the game did not continue to improve but rather lost steam. The passion for the game died as funds for player development and talent hunt were no longer available.

With the coming into office of Mawuko Afadzinu to head the Ghana Table Tennis Association, things have changed for the better. We even won a bronze medal at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville in 2015. We have a National League that is held every year and there are also Open Championships.

Now clear cut policies are being developed to ensure that there is succession from Under 12 years through cadet right to the seniors. We now have more committed players and administrative staff who are ready to work hand-in-hand to make sure that Ghana regains her lost glory.

I had a very good season in the National League. Also I won two National Open Championships and the National University Games. I also received a scholarship from Ghana Olympic Committee which boosted my training regime. I’m in top form for the ITTF-Africa top 16 Cup and I’m also mapping out a strategy for my potential opponents.

I’m much prepared this year having played in more tournaments. I’m looking forward to getting into the medal zone. It has always been my dream to climb the podium and receive a medal. This is the top 16, which has the best players on the continent. It will be a difficult hurdle to climb but I’ll do my best. I’m hoping to have a very good tournament as I will test myself against the best of the best to see how prepared I am for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

We are blessed to have these two magnificent players in the top 30 of the world ranking in Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna. I always look up to them as I aim to be a better player. They are blessed to have more international exposure and play with different players who exhibit different styles and skills. It will be difficult to topple them now because they always play with the best in the world all the time and this has improved their game.

Table tennis in Africa is gradually gaining weight after losing ground for a couple of years. The game has had some financial support from sponsors, tournaments and viewership is improving; more Africans are getting a chance to play in international competitions. I believe it will continue to get better.”

General News 2018 Europe Top 16 Derek Abrefa