by Ian Marshall, Editor
One month ago Nenad Bach, the man at the helm of the tournament, attended the World Parkinson’s Congress, the gathering being staged in the Japanese city of Kyoto from Tuesday 4th to Friday 7th June.
He presented a poster display, played his guitar and performed an original song for the occasion. Present to witness the occasion was Junko Saito from the local organizing committee.
“His story is sensational. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and could not sing or play his guitar any longer; his career as a musician was at an end. He began to play table tennis on the advice of a friend, at first once a week, then twice a week and later three times a week. After only six months he could play the guitar again; it was a miracle. A special room with three tables was prepared at the Congress. Mr. Bach visited and enjoyed playing table tennis with participants from all over the world. He played me too. I lost!” Junko Saito
Later Nenad Bach visited Hiroshima, from Monday 10th to Saturday 15th June, the city destroyed on Sunday 6th August by the atomic bomb, Junko Saito’s mother being a survivor; later on Monday 10th June he travelled to Tokyo.
“In Tokyo Mr Bach played Mr. Noguchi, who has much experience of giving table tennis lessons for para players and those who may suffer from Parkinson’s. Mr. Bach found Mr. Noguchi an excellent coach.” Junko Saito
A member of the newly organized Minatochiiki Table Tennis Club, a sub branch of the Japan Parkinson’s Disease Association (JPDA), Junko Saito was instrumental in organizing a welcome party on Wednesday 12th June. Many local personalities attended, with Hisao Mashimo, the President of the Minatochiiki Table Tennis Club, offering financial support.
“One of the key persons was Mrs. Masako Kawayama, who designed a special table tennis course “Care through Ping Pong” for people with an illness. We talked about the effects of table tennis for those with Parkinson’s and the promotion of friendship through the table tennis.” Junko Saito
Hopefully an entry from Japan for the ITTF Parkinson’s World Championships will ensue.
“In Japan there are about 150,000 persons with Parkinson’s but only 8,000 persons are members f the JPDA. Table tennis players are divided in two types. The first type is the person who played table tennis as student and later contracted Parkinson’s but remains as excellent player. The second type is the person, who has Parkinson’s and then began to exercise table tennis as patient. The Tokyo Division of the JPDA holds a table tennis tournament once a year; seven divisions around Kyoto hold in rotation a table tennis tournament once a year.” Junko Saito
Most entrants for the tournament are those who have played table tennis; for those who are new to the sport to avoid embarrassment, larger balls are used which travel more slowly and thus give the player time to react.
A most positive reaction; it is the same from Croatia, Nenad Bach’s very own country. Kreso Grobenski from Koprivnica has been promoting the theory that table tennis as an excellent therapy for Parkinson patients.
Significantly, Kreso Grobenski plans to follow the example of Nenad Bach by organizing local tournament in Koprivnica.