by Patrick Würtz ITTF Oceania High Performance Officer
The aim of empowering coaches by providing them with the education and skills needed to run Para training sessions and competitions, the first activity included formal coach education sessions for all invited coaches and players who travelled from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua-New Guinea, Tonga and Kiribati.
Following the two-day workshop, players participated in a three-day regional training camp guided by Australian Para National Coach, Alois Rosario and ITTF Oceania High Performance Officer Patrick Würtz.
“It was the interaction among the participants from the Pacific islands with the Australian National Team that makes me optimistic about the future of Para table tennis in the Oceania region.” Patrick Würtz.
The Australian Para Championships provided players and coaches with tournament experience and a provisional classification; the Para Development Camp combined education, training and competition experience over the ten day period.
Through formal education courses as well as on-table training the coaches and players gained valuable insights on both, how to create an inclusive environment that attracts people with a disability and, the tools to teach players skills to live an active lifestyle through table tennis.
Course participant Harvi Yee from Fiji used the opportunity to further her knowledge by tapping in to the experience on offer.
“The resources in Canberra are lot better than we are used to and hence, it was motivating to learn and train under these conditions. Alois, Patrick and our team manager Roger are very experienced when it comes to coaching players with a disability and we were able to learn a lot from them.” Harvi Yee
For Haoda Agari, the trip from Papua New Guinea to Australia provided the chance to not only face new opponents but also benefit from the array of training partners; something hard to find back home.
“The best part of the trip was to practise alongside the National Para athletes from Australia. We learned a lot from them when we played against them at the Australian Para Championships; however, it was even more beneficial for us to train together with them. We will certainly take this knowledge back to Papua New Guinea and pass it on to our players.” Haoda Agari
Meanwhile, for Vanuatu’s Ham Lulu, the camp allowed him to develop new skills specific to athletes with disability; the aim to implement on returning home.
“Even though I have been to many high level training camps, I learned a lot about table tennis with people with a disability. Our aim in Vanuatu is to grow participation in this area and hopefully, have a team representing our country in future Oceania Para Championships.” Ham Lulu
The camp now over, the hard work truly begins.
“It is now up to the participants of the camp to decide what they do with the input they received. I am hopeful that this was not just a short trip to Australia for the participants but rather a real educational experience that provides them with skills and the motivation to make an impact in their local community.” Patrick Würtz
Special thanks go to Alois Rosario, Roger Massie and the team from the Canberra Table Tennis Association who did an amazing job in organising and facilitating the event.
A demonstration by Ham Lulu (Photo:Patrick Würtz)