World Table Tennis Day 2019 was a resounding success! In its fifth edition, the annual event held on 6 April, centres around bringing people together from all corners of the world to promote social inclusion through table tennis, in accordance with the vision of the award-winning programme TT4ALL.
UNBELIEVABLE SCENES IN UGANDA
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the ITTF Foundation, together with Slum Ping Pong, staged this year’s flagship event in Kampala, Uganda, using the sport to break barriers and develop positive messages on children’s, girls’ and women’s rights.
Slum Ping Pong, which was also chosen among the projects to receive support from the ITTF Foundation via the TT Dream Building Fund, runs a table tennis club with over 100 children attending regularly.
“Slum Ping Pong is now two years old and we thank the ITTF Foundation for giving us the honour to host World Table Tennis Day 2019. I encourage all young children to keep playing table tennis.”
Emmanuel Bale, Slum Ping Pong Founder
From the capital to the countryside, celebrations extended across to the Uganda’s Western rural district of Hoima in tandem with the Hoima Network of Child Rights Clubs (HONECRIC), whose project is aimed at developing technical and life skills for children and youth.
Reaching out to approximately 8,000 kids in 70 schools across the region, the project is aimed at reducing early school dropout rates and encouraging the inclusion of children with and without disabilities through table tennis.
“The children love table tennis. They play it while saying out loud what they want to be when they grow up. This helps to foster discipline and determination.”
Lloyd Birungi, HONECRIC Project Officer
INSPIRATION FROM EGYPT
Following the motto “Nothing is impossible for those who believe”, Ibrahim Hamadtou, the Para Table Tennis champion and renowned Egyptian athlete who plays without hands, played an integral role in the site visits across Uganda, rallying with young people at the table tennis tables and encouraging them to pursue their dreams!
“I’m the only player in the world who plays with their mouth. I’m Egyptian, but very happy to be here in Uganda, I feel like I belong to this country too. Thank you everyone for this special day and I hope to see a champion emerge from Uganda among these children in the future!”
Ibrahim Hamadtou, Para Table Tennis Champion
“Anyone can play table tennis! We encourage all of you children to keep playing and one day soon you may be representing Uganda in the championships! A big thanks to Slum Ping Pong and Ibrahim for coming all the way from Egypt. On behalf of the ITTF Foundation, I’m very happy with this event and let’s continue celebrating!”
Leandro Olvech, ITTF Foundation Director
POSITIVE IMPACTS APLENTY
A number of schools across Uganda have noticed positive developments in their respective institutions thanks to the support offered through the projects held in relation to World Table Tennis Day:
“I’m very happy about the students’ progress so far. Table Tennis is promoting unity and helping the kids, with or without disabilities, to learn how to communicate and build good relationships with one another.”
Sister Maria Goreti, Kitana Primary School
“School enrolment is almost up to 400 now and cooperation with other primary schools has been enabled thanks to the table tennis projects.”
Diana Kamuli, Headteacher of Buhanika Primary School
“St. Michaels International School in Kampala has been able to offer scholarships to three kids because of table tennis.”
Caroline Nyamahunge, Headteacher of Kibanjwa Primary School
‘BELIEVE IN A BRIGHTER FUTURE’
While plenty of progress is being made on a daily basis, and not exclusively on World Table Tennis Day, there of course remain plenty of challenges still to overcome:
“The budget allocated to physical education in schools is approximately 5% and the sums of money are negligible. The biggest challenge we face is not only funding, but also changing the negative perceptions from parents, who believe that their kids playing table tennis will hinder their academic progress.”
Alinde Haruna, Member of the National Primary School Sports Committee
The National Primary School Sports Committee is working towards building national teams that can compete in regional championships.
“Table Tennis offers so many opportunities and parents should always encourage their children to play this sport, which promotes unity and cohesion among youth of different backgrounds and keeps kids in school.”
Jjagwe Robert, Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA)
“Let everyone be inspired by Ibrahim Hamadtou that anyone can earn a living through table tennis. Therefore, we are urging parents to encourage their children that nothing is impossible if you believe.”
Grace Mary Mugasa, Mayor of Hoima
The ITTF would like to thank everyone for making World Table Tennis Day 2019 such a resounding success and is committed to using the sport of table tennis to continue playing a positive role in communities across the globe.