04 Mar 2019

Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, the Kingdom of Tonga, to afford the Polynesian island its official name, was recent home for an ITTF/PTT Level One Coaches Course; proceedings commenced on Tuesday 19th February and concluded on Wednesday 27th February.

Supported by Olympic Solidarity and organised under the umbrella of ITTF High Performance and Development, the venue throughout was the Queen Salote Memorial Hall.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Under the direction of Jessica MacAskill, overall 20 students attended, representing various clubs in Tonga.

Notably, it was the first course to be staged in the archipelago for at least four years, participants from the smaller outer islands making the journey. In particular two coaches from Eua and two from Ha’apai attended.

“The future hope is that with skilled coaches table tennis can grow as a sport with people playing in the other islands.” Jessica MacAskill

Totally focused during a practical session (Photo: courtesy of Jessica MacAskill)

 

Most certainly there was a positive response, especially from Netina Latu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association.

“The course is very timely as Tonga seeks to increase participation and expand growth; to do so we need more coaches to help teach our youth play table tennis. It is also good for us to have coaches who can assist in the other islands, Eua and Ha’apai.” Netina Latu

Ready to receive serve (Photo: courtesy of Jessica MacAskill)

 

Thanks to the efforts of Jessica MacAskill, the course had a high success rate, with every coach learning many new skills and enjoying the week.

“Following the education component there was a three day training camp where all the coaches had the opportunity to put their new knowledge and skills into action. The training camp provided coaches an opportunity to work with a variety of players; school children, teenagers, adults and people with a disability.” Jessica MacAskill

In particular Soaki Liuaki from Ha’apai appreciated the chance to put theory into practice.

“It was a good experience for me to work with players of different levels and practise what I have been taught as a coach. I now look forward to going home, starting a club and encouraging more youths to play table tennis.” Soaki Liuaki

The first steps for the new generation (Photo: courtesy of Jessica MacAskill)

 

A most valuable initiative welcomed by all; none more so than by Hasiloni Fungavai, the President of the Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association

“I’m pleased with the course and I am excited to have many new coaches that can assist in further developing table tennis in Tonga. Hopefully these coaches can continue to learn new things later this year by watching some of the best young players, when we host the Oceania Junior Championships”. Hasiloni Fungavai

A major goal for the national association, the 2019 ITTF-Oceania Junior Championships will be staged in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, from Wednesday 7th to Saturday 10th August.

Listening and learning (Photo: courtesy of Jessica MacAskill)
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High Performance and Development Coaching Soaki Liuaki Netina Latu Jessica McAskill Hasiloni Fungavai