28 Feb 2018

An idea first discussed some six months ago, following extensive discussions, the ITTF Foundation, a non-profit making organisation, was ratified officially at the Executive Committee Meeting of the International Table Tennis Federation in London on Saturday 24th February.

Now, the next step following legalization is to launch the initiative; the proposed date is Friday 6th April at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in the north of Jordan, a settlement which provides home for Syrians fleeing Civil War.

Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

The Foundation involves a Governing Board which comprises, Thomas Weikert, ITTF President and Bruce Burton, ITTF Executive Vice President, alongside Steve Dainton, ITTF Chief Executive Officer and Leandro Olvech, the current ITTF Development Officer.

A board of Trustees is also in place; the task to supervise all activities; the members being ITTF Executive Vice Presidents, Petra Sörling and Nestor Tenca.

“I am really excited with this new ITTF project and I hope that our beloved sport can produce a ground breaking contribution for a better and healthier world. Personally, it has been an honour for me to be directly involved in latest ITTF social responsibility programme. Visiting initiatives in Nepal, Guinea Bissau or at the United Nations Headquarters were eye-opening experiences. They made a contribution for me to assume my membership of the Governing Board with the required motivation and responsibility. I am looking forward to going to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in the Jordan Border with Syria to launch the ITTF Foundation but especially to see, how table tennis can improve the quality of life.” Thomas Weikert

Always, Thomas Weikert has been a strong supporter of humanitarian cause; it is the same for Steve Dainton. He assumed the role of Oceania Development Officer in 2002 and later in 2004 implemented the “Breaking Down Barriers with Table Tennis Balls in Afghanistan”; a quite eye-opening experience.

“The creation of the ITTF Foundation shows clearly how important social responsibility is for the whole ITTF and that table tennis can go much further than competition”. Steve Dainton

The trustees: Petra Sörling (left) signs (right) Nestor Tenca clearly delighted the initiative has come to fruition (Photo: courtesy of Leandro Olvech)


A Governing Board and Trustees in place, the day to day organisation rests on the shoulders of Leandro Olvech, who becomes the Foundation Director and Wiebke Scheffler, she assumes the role of Foundation Manager. Notably, she has been working for the ITTF as an external consultant, especially related to humanitarian projects, the TT4ALL Programme and World Table Tennis Day.

“I am immensely happy about this decision which is certainly not an isolated event but has to be seen as a process that started 19 years ago with the beginning of ITTF Development Programme. Several humanitarian projects have been executed by the ITTF. I have had the chance to be involved in most of them. I passed have through a personal process of commitment as my involvement and interest in social projects grew progressively in a constant manner during these last 11 years. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for the trust of our Executive Committee and Chief Executive Officer in this new mission; for me goes much further than a normal job; it is a life vocation.” Leandro Olvech

Decisions have been taken; all existing and proposed social projects currently under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme will now be under the umbrella of the new ITTF Foundation.

“Six areas are targeted to structure the work, notably named Dream Building, TT4ALL, NeTTworking, TT Advocacy, Athletes Involvement, and Get Inspired. I hope that the table tennis community worldwide, the ITTF Family and our existing partners and sponsors commit actively to this initiative and that it serves to promote solidarity and to gain new supporter for this cause.” Leandro Olvech

The official inauguration of the ITTF Foundation is planned for the 2018 World Table Tennis Day. The main event on Friday 6th April will be the launching of the “Nittaku ITTF Dream Building with Refugees” project. The initiative aims to provide sport opportunities and the education of values through table tennis for Syrian refugees living in the Zaatari Camp

Furthermore, the focus is on a progressive sport exchange between Jordan and the Syrian refugees.

Contact: Leandro Olvech, Foundation Director
Email: lolvech@ittf.com

Development, Education and Training Thomas Weikert Leandro Olvech Steve Dainton Petra Sörling Nestor Tenca Wiebke Scheffler Bruce Burton