How to build on the rapid rise of Para Table Tennis, to further professionalise the sport and bring in more sponsors?
These and many more questions were discussed this week by Head of Para Table Tennis, Pablo Perez, ITTF Executive Vice President responsible for Para Table Tennis, Petra Sörling, and members of the ITTF’s Singapore Office this week.
Since the ITTF took over the governance of Para Table Tennis in what was a pioneer move in 2007, plenty of work has been done to improve many areas of the game, such as educating coaches, officials and developing the players themselves.
In recent times, the discipline has seen a dramatic recent growth in participation numbers, with 2000 athletes currently active globally, representing more than 100 different countries.
Moreover, the sport boasts a proud history as one of the founder Paralympic Games disciplines, having been included among eight sports at the first ever event held in Rome in 1960, and its rich tradition with the Games will be further strengthened at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 events.
From a technical perspective, Para Table Tennis makes an extremely strong case for being regarded as the most inclusive sport for people with disabilities, using the same equipment as able-bodied athletes, the same rules and the same field of play, helping to provide equal opportunities and experiences to all.
Improving the undisputed professionalisation of the sport, umpires and referees are fully versed in the specific rules for Para athletes, while since 2016, it is mandatory for all ITTF coaches to absorb the specific needs of the players.
Commercially, Para Table Tennis is making important steps forward too. Earlier this year, it was announced that 729 would be joining as ball sponsor for the 2019-2020 Para Table Tennis Tour & Continental Championships.
Featuring among this week’s discussions, there is the possibility now to attract sponsors connected to the needs of Para athletes, such as wheelchairs or prosthesis manufacturers.
As Para Table Tennis is already raising its profile on many levels, the ITTF is keen to keep the momentum going and keep adding value to the sport, which still has so much potential for future growth.
“I am grateful to Ms. Petra Sörling and Mr. Steve Dainton for taking the initiative and giving me this opportunity to present Para Table Tennis to all of the ITTF’s Singapore based staff. While I have been immersed on a daily basis in the competitions and classification management, it was beneficial to discuss in more detail the marketing aspects and opportunities of Para Table Tennis and I am convinced that we will soon see many positive results.”
Head of Para Table Tennis, Pablo Perez
“Discussions this week have been extremely productive. We have covered plenty of ground, setting exciting objectives for future growth and, most importantly of all, we share enormous trust in terms of working more effectively across departments in order to keep improving Para Table Tennis and giving the athletes the best possible conditions in which to compete.”
ITTF Executive Vice President responsible for Para Table Tennis, Petra Sörling