23 Dec 2018

Home for the 2019 African Youth, Junior and Cadet Championships next April 2019; Accra was the recent setting for an even younger age group; staged in the Hathiramani Sports Hall, the splendidly located capital city of Ghana hosted the West Africa Regional Hopes Week and Challenge.

Organised under the auspices of ITTF High Performance and Development, proceedings commenced on Saturday 15th December and concluded on Saturday 22nd December.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Overall, under the guidance of Egypt’s Hisham Ismail, a total of 21 boys and four girls attended accompanied by eight coaches; notably two boys and one girl, alongside two coaches travelled from Nigeria

“The objective of the training camp was to further develop the Hopes players within West Africa; the national associations have identified this as the core focus in their development plan. Also the Ghana Table Tennis Association has established training centres in ten regions in the country, especially for players under 12 years old; they are working with grass root players in order to create a new generation to compete in the future.” Hisham Ismail

A training session in progress in the Hathiramani Sports Hall (Photo: courtesy is Hisham Ismail)


Each day two training sessions were held; the first from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon, the second from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm, matters commencing with a series of matches to evaluate the level of each player.

Standards determined; a detailed itinerary was established with each session following a particular theme. Serve and receive, footwork, balance, tactics and physical fitness were all included in the programme; multi-ball training being a major aspect in order to improve speed and control.

The competitive spirit, a race for physical training (Photo: courtesy of Hisham Ismail)


In addition, educational sessions involving coaches were held. The end result was from coaches and players alike, intensive discussions ensued, technique being the major topic.

Throughout the whole programme, Mawuko Afadzinu, President of the Ghana Table Tennis Association, gave full support; he attended many of the training sessions, helping to provide the necessary materials. The outcome was that an outstanding environment was created.

“My thanks to the Ghana Table Tennis Association, especially to Mr. Mawuko Afadzinu and to Owusu Ansah the Head Coach of Ghana Team and to all coaches from Nigeria and from Ghana that made a great effort in everything during the camp. Thanks for all the players for their participation, commitment and for giving all of their efforts during the camp and challenge.” Hisham Ismail

Multi-ball practice was high on the agenda (Photo: courtesy of Hisham Ismail)


Furthermore, media interest was high from the very start, in addition to the written press, television reported on the whole proceedings.

Meanwhile for the Challenge tournament, four boys from Ghana and three from Nigeria competed; for the girls three from Ghana and one from Nigeria took part.

Intense discussions followed training sessions (Photo: courtesy of Hisham Ismail)


A high level of competition, Nigeria emerged successful with Okanlawon Usman Ishola and Akeem Sadiat Alimat emerging the respective Boys’ Singles and Girls’ Singles winners.

The target now is to qualify for the 2019 World Hopes Week, the evidence shows the potential to reach such a goal is present.

Challenge Tournament – Final Positions
The Boys’ Singles final (Photo: courtesy of Hisham Ismail)


Boys: 1. Okanlawon Usman Ishola (Nigeria) 2. Gado Ibrahim Nuhu (Ghana) 3. Mustapha Mustapha (Nigeria) 4. Gabriel Mbasu (Ghana).

Play progresses in the Girls’ Singles final (Photo: courtesy of Hisham Ismail)


Girls: Akeem Sadiat Alimat (Nigeria) 2. Emmanuella Yaa Kyere (Ghana) 3. Clara Arhin (Ghana) 4. Freda Sasu (Ghana)

The medallists in the Boys’ Singles (left) and (right) the Girls’ Singles events (Photos: courtesy of Hisham Ismail
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High Performance and Development Coaching Hisham Ismail