by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Promoting sport at grass roots level and seeing the transformative power of sport to change people’s lives is the motivating factor for Glenn Tepper; a fact that can be attributed to the days before involvement with the International Table Tennis Federation began.
Glenn Tepper hails from Murtoa, a small Australian town of some 1,000 inhabitants; his parents organised a weekly table tennis competition. Over 400 people participated weekly, an incredible 40 per cent of the population! Rapid improvement, soon every weekend he travelled some four hours to Melbourne to attend training sessions; eventually alongside siblings Kerri, Jan and Ross gaining national team selection.
“My father was a regional tennis champion who played table tennis as a side line, he was our coach. He studied Harry Hopman’s techniques and applied them to table tennis, I understood later he applied many Chinese training techniques such as multi-ball long before it arrived in Australia.” Glenn Tepper
Notably from 1982 to 1991, Glenn Tepper wore the green and gold of Australia on the international scene; he played in the World Championships in 1983, 1985 and 1989; the Commonwealth Championships in 1983, 1995, 1989 and 1991 as well as in the Asian Championships of 1982, 1984 and 1988 when Australia was eligible as an associate member. He reached no.160 on the World Rankings, no.8 in the Commonwealth and no.2 in Oceania.
A player of note but it is in the world of development where the heart lies. A Bachelor of Education, specialising in Physical Education, a graduate Diploma in Sports Coaching from the Australian Institute of Sport, Glenn Tepper taught at a school for problem children, it was in that role that he saw the benefits of sport as a tool for social change.
“Coming from a small town with limited options and working in a school for troubled children, gave me an insight into the transformative power of sport.” Glenn Tepper
Notably from 1980 to 1998 he organised National Junior Training Camps, before in 1995 becoming the part-time Oceania Development Officer and National Coaching Director for Table Tennis Australia in addition to being the Men’s Team National Coach.
In January 1999 he assumed the role of Oceania Development Officer; it is in that guise he has continued until the present day; a period of history that has witnessed dramatic change and one in which Glenn Tepper had to overcame obstacles.
“It is hard to imagine now but the development programme began in the days when fax machines were still the main form of communication in the developing world; convincing the continents that a guy from Murtoa, Australia can advise them on development had to be overcome. Each continent and country is different but the principles applied are very similar.” Glenn Tepper
Hurdles to overcome but whatever the difficulties presented those hurdles have been overcome; when Glenn Tepper took over the reins of the ITTF Development Programme, the number of members stood at 180, it is now 226 in total, bigger than any other international sporting federation. The increase in membership has kept pace with the communication revolution!
“Prior to starting with ITTF in 1999, ITTF was one of the smallest international federations. Adham Sharara had the vision to take the sport to a new level. He made key hires in each area and trusted the staff to implement the programmes. I feel very fortunate that I was trusted to set up the ITTF Development Programme and ITTF Coach Accreditation Scheme with a blank canvas to create something special.” Glenn Tepper
It was a monumental task some 20 years ago and one in which not only has Glenn Tepper fulfilled an administrative and organisational role; also, he has motivated others by example. In return he is grateful for the support he has received.
“My thanks to all the Development and Education staff and ITTF Course Conductors that worked with great passion on low salaries because they loved the sport. Of course the support of the different ITTF Executive Committees, Continental Presidents and National Associations were also critical to the success of the programmes.” Glenn Tepper
An enthralling journey and one which I have followed closely since publishing articles on the Oceania Development Programme in Table Tennis Illustrated as far back as 1996. One fact always struck me, for Glenn Tepper, sport was more than just sport; it was a vehicle for a better life.
I am sure that through his efforts, many whose names we do not know, have a life for the better, one enriched by being introduced to sport, one enriched by being given the opportunity to play the sport for all, the sport of table tennis.