by Kabir Nagpal
The “Roma Ping Pong Fest” was a 360° all-rounded TTX Experience for a host of participants, featuring a three major sections at Via dei Fori Imperiali: “TTX tournament”, a “Celebrity tournament”, and fun zones comprising of music, shows and even more…
Participants who arrived simply picked up a racket with family & friends to enjoy games of TTX at their pleasure. Smash it, play it freestyle and hustling their way to glory, and score extra points with wildcards and winners – this unpredictable game was exciting and fun till the last second of the event.
Success in Roma, made for the world
Organised by the ITTF and FITET (the Italian Table Tennis Federation), in collaboration with SG Plus Ghiretti & Partners, and with the support of the Lazio Region, the Municipality of Rome, CONI and the Italian Paralympic Committee (CIP), the Roma Ping Pong Fest will be the first of its kind to be launched in Italy, showcasing the new format of table tennis that aims to make the sport more youthful.
“We are excited to see TTX take off in Rome. The energy of the streets of Denver and the iconic Via dei Fori Imperiali and Colosseum have provided the perfect backdrop for TTX, a ‘sport for all,’ combining the fun and competitive elements of ping pong in a simplified and social context. “Smash Street by TTX” and the “Roma Ping Pong Fest” are just the start as we continue to explore new opportunities to expand the reach of our amazing sport worldwide.” Gordon Kaye, ITTF Managing Director of Product Innovation.
Set against the iconic backdrop of the Colosseum, the Roma Ping Pong Fest was designed to be more of a showcase for the ‘TTX Experience’ to a broader audience. And as the event of TTX itself remains front and centre, there were kids, celebrity, and adult tournaments amongst all-day performances taking place all over the venue.
Speaking more about the venue decision, Gordon goes on to say the focus was heavily on the social aspect:
“We wanted Denver to have a ‘grittiness’ to attract the urban young professional crowd, while Rome is really more based on the iconic and central location to attract a wider audience. With that being said, both events were heavily focused on the fun and social aspects of the sport, with a little competition to go along!” Gordon Kaye
The competitive numbers of fun
Quite simply, whilst competition is the very essence of sport, enjoyment and fun are the heart of the matter. Just as in Denver and Varberg, in Roma everyone could compete, there were no restrictions.
The equally playing restrictions were removed because TTX rackets have no artificial covering. When playing a TTX tournament, there are no limiting rules for serving, just hit the ball, make it bounce once at your side of the table and then hop over the net, and you are all set. Each match can be as many odd numbered games as you wish, each game being timed to two minutes.
These rules were learnt by approximately 60,000 people, who attended the 9-hour event in Roma. Italian citizens, tourists and many curious people were able to closely observe this new format that makes “Ping Pong” even more modern, simple, inclusive, available to everyone and for everyone. Those present also had the chance to admire the many shows and performances held on the central stage of the village.
The TTX village, set up for the occasion, was visited by about 6000 people, most of whom decided to pick up a racket and try TTX for the first time ever. Many challenges in tournaments were dedicated to members – Under 10 and Under 14 boys – and employees of Sport and Salute SpA.
The winner of the “1st TTX Trophy – City of Roma” was Tijani Jusuff Adewale, a FITET member. There was great participation seen also in the “Celebrity Tournament”, coordinated by the actor and table tennis champion Alessio Sardelli, which was eventually won by the actor Pietro Sermonti.
A worthy cause to enjoy the Sun
If there was a need for more reasons to love TTX, the event in Roma supported the “Città della Speranza” Foundation and research into Paediatric Oncoematology – research that covers many psychological and social aspects, linked to the difficult experiences of having a tumor during childhood or adolescence.
The “Roma Ping Pong Fest” thus became a solidarity. In the entertainment area, when the street artists and writers had transformed the TTX tables into their canvases: these tables were then put up for auction and the proceeds were entirely donated to the “Città della Speranza” Onlus Foundation , for scientific research in the pediatric blood oncology.
By coming to the “Roma Ping Pong Fest” people were also helping out our charity partners and their amazing work to spread the word about an important research that would benefit millions around the globe.
Read more about them here.
Special guests light up event
A special city like Roma always will have special people gracing an event like this. And no wonder, there were many guests of “Roma Ping Pong Fest” which lit up the event with their presence.
To name a few, the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, the city councilor for Sport Daniele Frongia , the President of the Istituto Sportivo Andrea Abodi , the Board of Directors of Sport and Health SpA Francesco Landi and Roberto Tavani representing the President of the Lazio Region Nicola Zingaretti carried out exchanges at TTX together with the President of the Italian Table Tennis Federation Renato Di Napoli and Massimo Costantini, High Performance Elite Coach for ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation).
“The Imperial forums on Sunday were the theatre of an event open to all citizens: the Roma Ping Pong Fest, with the first European stage of the TTX tournament, a new format, more fun and dynamic, of the discipline of tennis table. There were numerous ping pong stations for all and tournaments of TTX but also entertainment with street art performances and writing and live music, not forgetting the social aspect. For the occasion, a fundraiser was organized in favour of scientific research in the field of pediatric oncoematologia. The intent of this festival collects an important challenge: launch a different discipline, closer to the amateur audience, and therefore more inclusive, with different rules and more versatile materials. The goal remains to involve a more youthful audience and make sport more social and closer to new generations on any game table. And what better city than Rome to launch this important challenge?!” Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi (translated)
The spokespersons at the event were the Azure women tennis athletes Chiara Colantoni and Giada Rossi, who became #1 in the world Class 2 classification. The two FITET athletes were protagonists at the Imperial Forums in the company of the Paralympic Technical Director Alessandro Arcigli and the champion Clara Podda. Their presence revamped the way people approach TTX and added an even more authentic feel to the event.
We are very happy to see this response to TTX across the world. Follow our journey in the future right here on ITTF!