by Wiebke Scheffler, ITTF Foundation – Head of Operations
Leandro Olvech, ITTF Foundation Director, presented six programmes, selected as prime examples to develop the sport in the best interests of mankind.
“We will launch multiple projects but in the long term but we do not see ourselves just as a factory of projects. We want to be seen as an inspiration and a model to persuade other organisations to change their minds and keep social responsibility high on their agendas. In every step we will showcase the best cases able to be replicated by others.
Of course, we have plenty of ideas and will support a lot of projects in the future but our work is not just about engaging new projects but about the sustainability of each and its replicability! We are looking for role model projects that can be copied by others.” Leandro Olvech
Role model projects include Dream Building in Uganda “Honecric” and “Slum Ping Pong” from Robert Jjagwe, the President of the Uganda Table Tennis Association. Highlighting legacy, “Buenos Aires – Tokyo” from Fernando Joffre, President of the Argentina Table Tennis Federation, attracts the attention; as for Ping Pong Diplomacy does “One Korea, One Table” from Ryu Seungmin, the 2004 Olympic Games gold medallist and now member of the International Olympic Committee. Furthermore, he is the ITTF Foundation Ambassador.
In the category TT4Health, the concept of Ping Pong Parkinson by Nenad Bach, a celebrated Croatian celebrated musician now living in New York, set the standard.
Pertinently, Ryu Seungmin presented images from behind the scenes showcasing the emotional meeting of North and South Korean players before competing as a unified team in Halmstad, Sweden. He recalled the words of Moon Joe-In, President of South Korea who stated the fact that a “small table tennis ball brought the South and the North together” and how important that was and is for the whole peninsula.
Shortly after, Nenad Bach stressed the importance of how table tennis can influence other aspects of life, in his case Parkinson disease and how important the work of the ITTF Foundation is for all those most in need.
Matters concluded with those present being afforded the chance to pose questions; notably Leandro Olvech stressed global reach in order to allay concerns that the initiatives were focused only on third world countries.
“The ITTF Foundation is a world-wide acting organisation, present in all 226 member countries. Its core area lays not in one or another country but in presenting sample cases that can be replicated in other parts of the world.” Leandro Olvech
Heartening words that endorse: table tennis for all, for life.