by Ian Marshall, Editor
Commencing in late 2017, now for some 15 months, the well respected French coach, Cédric Rouleau, has been the Technical Director of the Mauritius Table Tennis Association; last year he was the expert on duty for the first part of the Developing a National Sport Structure Course.
Notably, he conducted an ITTF/PTT Level One Course and has promoted table tennis in schools as well as introducing the sport to the small island of Rodrigues, some 580 kilometers east of Mauritius.
Venue for the training sessions was a small room in a school, the table tennis hall which belongs to the Mauritius Table Tennis Association where 24 tables can be comfortably located, was not available owing to renovation work for the Island Games. All the players involved were either students or had to work. Therefore the sessions took place from 5.00 pm to 7.30 pm; always starting with an intensive warm up.
On this occasion, the national team was the targeted group. Under the guidance of Georg Silberschmidt a nine month preparation programme has started for the 2019 Island Games to be staged next year in Mauritius. The multi-sport event is arguably the most important of all for the local athletes.
Similar to the Olympic Games, the Island Games is held every four years. The goal stated for the Mauritian players in the table tennis events is very high, gold medals in all the seven events!
“Taking into consideration the long preparation period, the targets for the first weeks were quite obvious: the improvement of techniques and combinations of different strokes; also, footwork, service and return plus the precise placement of the ball.“ Georg Silberschmidt
Notably in the opening two weeks, Georg Schilberschmidt had a most welcome assistant; Samir Mulabdic, head coach of the Swiss national team. Visting the island on holiday, he offered help. He worked tirelessly with the players in multi ball sessions and explained the differences of the techniques with the plastic ball.
Pertinently, a physiotherapist as well as a masseur was at the disposal of the players, from November there will be a psychologist, all government funded. Furthermore, the players receive financial support. Significantly, throughout the training sessions, food and drinks were provided as well as transport home.
“Everybody hopes, that soon, the training centre renovation will conclude so that preparation for the Island Games can be conducted in the best conditions and with practice partners travelling from different countries. The hall in Beau Bassin is really unique, probably one of the best and biggest in Africa. The association alongside Cédric Rouleau has even plans to make this venue an international training centre, this really would help everybody in Africa to make improvements!“ Georg Silberschmidt
In addition Georg Silberschmidt Cédric Rouleau visited rehabilition centres for boys and girls; the boys in particular learned very quickly and were very enthusiastic. Georg Silberschmidt was so impressed with the talents, discipline and kindness; it was hard for him to realise he was coaching in a prison!
Most importantly, the national association will donate table tennis equipment to the rehabilitation centres and on occasions send coaches – Table Tennis. For all. For life!