The Gambia Table Tennis Association is channelling promotion of table tennis through school programs, which was reflected in the composition of the coaching course – 16 of 20 participants were Physical Education teachers.
“We are convinced that the development of table tennis in the country necessarily passes through grassroots development, that’s why we want to make physical education teachers, and schools, our privileged partners in development.”, said Peter Prom, President of the Gambia Table Tennis Association.
This ambition was mirrored in Guinea’s aim for coaches’ education. Mr. Famasson Camara, General Secretary of the Guinean Table Tennis Federation, said: “This Coach Education is very convenient, and we can only welcome the International Table Tennis Federation. This internship will enable us to be ready to carry out our ambitious table tennis project in schools.”
Kaka Lawson, expert on duty in the Gambia, said: “I found the coaches enthusiastic and very motivated, as this course is an opportunity for many of them to have their first coaching education experience.” His efforts resulted in nine of the twenty participants passing the course and are now completing their practical requirements to become fully certified ITTF-PTT Level 1 coaches.
The coaches’ course was followed by a cadet training camp with 25 players, 10 of which were girls, attending. While some of the players were experienced, for 12 of them it was the first time playing Table Tennis. The excitement was palpable, both in those looking to improve their level of play and those that were just discovering the fundamentals and basic techniques of the sport.
“We want to be present in the next Regional and International competitions, especially the African Youth Games and the Youth Olympic Games in 2022 in Dakar, that’s why we have to prepare well from now for the qualifying events”, said president Peter Prom. Vice-President of the association, Hesham Alturky, added: “We must give a chance to our youth the chance to develop and flourish through Sports in general and especially table tennis”.
A promise was made by Gambia National Sport Program Council Director Ebrima Secka to focus more on the training of both players and coaches, and to make available to the NA a sport specific table tennis venue within a larger sports complex.
In Guinea, ITTF West Africa Regional development Officer Paul Tiendrebeogo, guided 23 aspiring coaches on their journey towards becoming a certified ITTF-PTT Level 1 coach. The coaches who came to participate were former table tennis players and supporters. Their common aim in completing the certification was to be able to focus on coaching youth players in their clubs at home.
NA President Robert Condé added: “We have learned a lot about basic techniques and the elaboration of a table tennis development strategy, and we expect the ITTF to support us furthermore”. The ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course followed by the Training Camp was well completed and responded to the needs of the participants, meeting their expectations.
“The need for coaches’ training remains a necessity given the structure of the National Association and the resources at their disposal.The lack of equipment (tables, racket, rubbers and balls) seriously undermines the discipline. Although assisted by the Ministry, the organizational level remains low. The Guinean TTA hopes to benefit from the support of the National Olympic Committee through the Olympic Solidarity program, ‘Development National Sports Structure’, to promote table tennis throughout the country.”, said Paul Tiendrebeogo.
The hard work in the region will continue with the West African Regional Championship, to be held in Cote d’Ivoire on 2-3 November 2019.