by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
The event was the third in the series of Table Tennis. For All. For Life. Forums; the location was the Palms Hotel in Mauritius on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th September during the 2018 ITTF African Championships. The two-day forum was hosted by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF).
At the two-day gathering, the ITTF updated ATTF members regarding the new plans. Both the strategic plan but also specifically with regards to events, development and the Foundation.
It afforded delegates opportunities to ask questions of the ITTF Senior Management and the ITTF President. Following the Forum and based on comments received regarding the future plans, ITTF has decided to commit to the following:
- Investing in professional staff to help with events and development in the region.
- To assist the five regions of Africa to develop events especially connected to the new format of the World Table Tennis Championships
- In the next 18 months preparing to set up an ITTF managed professional training centre in Africa.
- To look at ways in the short-term to increase its support to all national associations in the region with the aim that by the next ITTF commercial rights cycle to increase significantly.
Dr. Alaa Meshref explained that the forum had helped to unearth many things.
“Holding the Forum as an idea itself was very positive, it was good to have interaction and communication between ITTF and African associations and regions. The ITTF explained its Strategic Plan and programs which can support African table tennis to grow and develop.”
“Funding is often an issue in Africa, and therefore it is important that we continue to educate National Associations on how they can access different types of funding, such as Olympic Solidarity.”
This was the first forum to take place in Africa, and following the first experience, future forums will be even more tailored to the local needs. Once ITTF starts to roll out more of its new programmes as part of its Strategic Plan, it will be good to have another forum. The next step the ITTF will take in Africa is to open an office, and hire professional staff to assist in implementing the ITTF Strategic Plan specifically within Africa. I also believe ITTF needs to develop a tailored development program to assist inactive associations to start being active locally and regionally.” Dr. Alaa Meshref.
Notably for Steve Dainton it was his first visit to the ITTF African Championships.
“There is really a lot of work to be done in the region and it is now obvious that our investment in recent years has not been enough. As the ITTF resources have grown, we can see that still in some continents a lot more hard work needs to be done to ensure the sport in the region has greater success for the future. We are now committed to push forward on these plans and will go back to the drawing board on how to improve the situation, with even greater investment. It was great to see our African table tennis friends really trying their best to move our sport forward in each country and there is a lot of table tennis passion and with this passion, I am sure we can move forward the development of the sport in a faster way than the past.” Steve Dainton
Khaled El-Salhy explained the Forum provided ample opportunity for the continent to learn from ITTF in areas of marketing, development, education and media.
“The Forum has benefits for ATTF in learning from the very big experience of ITTF in many fields such as marketing, development, education, media coverage, Foundation and TTX, while ITTF also became more familiar with the African members in terms of needs, obstacles and dreams. I am expecting that such Forum will become a turning point for better promotion of table tennis in Africa. Now ATTF will continue finalizing our Strategic Plan according to our needs and priorities and then to pass it to ITTF as an expected application for all what we have been discussing within the Forum.” Khaled El-Salhy