by Dora Jeler, High Performance and Development Operations Manager
From 20th to 24th June, Mauritius welcomed French Expert Julien Girard who, on his very first mission as an ITTF expert, conducted an ITTF-PTT Level 1 coaching course with 15 participants. These aspiring coaches were mostly based in schools and governmental colleges around the island, with two of them based at institutions for people with reduced mobility, working on a Para Table Tennis project.
The coaching course was followed by a training camp for the national team of Mauritius in preparation of the Indian Ocean Island Games to be held on home soil from 19th to 28th July. Mauritius has been working towards raising the standard of their top players by hosting major events, such as the 2018 Continental Hopes Week and Challenge and the 2018 African Championships.
Their determination to raise the level of the sport within their country is also evident in the appointment of a new National Technical Director. With these high-profile events and more development activities such as last month’s coaching course, Mauritius is aiming to raise the profile to aid the development of table tennis at the grassroots level by empowering schools and community leaders further afield than the current hub of Beau Bassin.
These efforts are underlined with the opening of a new sports complex, the “Cote de Or”. Supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, this high profile complex comprises a medical center, a meeting room and the offices of the Mauritius Table Tennis Federation. As such, Mauritius is opening its doors to international competitions and training camps in excellent conditions. The first test of the new complex will be the 10th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games, kicking off on 19th July with Madagascar, Mayotte, Reunion Island, Maldives, Comoros and Seychelles in attendance, competing against each other in seven table tennis events.
Towards the north of the continent, Egypt focused on bringing the number of Para Table Tennis classifiers up. As the African country with the largest Para table Tennis community, Egypt is eager to bring more classifiers to the table. The national Para Table Tennis Championships features around 200 players, many of whom are not classified internationally or under an outdated classification.
Fortunately, enthusiasm for proper training of classifiers in order to help the national development is high. Therefore, from 23rd to 27th June, the city of Alexandria welcomed nine participants from Egypt, Jordan, Germany and Slovenia. Under the guidance of Dr. Juraj Stefak and Lisa Lundell the participants worked through five intense days of theoretical presentations, classification and observation. In addition to the on-site training, participants worked through online learning material complementing the topics presented by their course conductors.
Participants came from a variety of backgrounds: coaches, physiotherapists, administrators, players and physical educators joined in their effort to learn the skills of a classifier. During the African Para Championships that followed the seminar, the need for trained classifiers was evident. Besides their regular duties of international classification, they classified 20 more players who were unable to participate in the Championships, bringing the total number of classified players to an incredible 58!
“It is always a pleasure to train young and enthusiastic classifiers. Classification is constantly becoming a more important part of Para sport and we must reinforce our training procedures so the standards keep rising”. Juraj Stefak, Senior Classifier
“I am very happy that we got to attract participants from Egypt so we can count on classifiers in the African region, but that is not enough. We must keep spreading the classification education across the rest of the continent.” Pablo Perez, Head of Para Table Tennis