by Ian Marshall, Editor
Overall the entry reads 49 men and 12 women, representing 12 countries for the innovative tournament supported by the ITTF Foundation’s TT4Health Programme.
Understandably being the hosts, the United States with overall 22 players has the largest representation; from foreign shores 11 entrants is the very impressive number from Sweden. In addition players, coaches and supporters from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Portugal and Switzerland have arrived or are en route.
Classification and necessary delegates meetings start proceedings on the eve of the tournament, men’s and women’s doubles for which all players are eligible signals the commencement of play on Saturday morning; then on Sunday it is men’s and women’s singles.
Play in the doubles events is organised on the knock-out basis, in the singles events matters are administered in two phases, group play followed by single elimination. All matches in all events are best of three games.
It is the realisation of a dream for Nenad Bach, renowned composer and peace activist who moved from his native Croatia in 1984 to live in New York. Earlier this year he travelled far and wide, notably to Japan to promote the tournament; quietly in an unobtrusive manner, he contacts everyone involved to check and double check that everything is in order.
Moreover, not only does the 64 year old find time to lead the organising team but most importantly he finds time to enjoy the activity which alongside music has become his number one passion. He finds time to play table tennis!
Every Wednesday a group of some 10 or more players, all diagnosed with Parkinson’s meet at the club for a two hour coaching session commencing at 7.00pm. The event takes priority, meetings to finalise tournament details must wait! It is fun but with an air of determination, there are smiles everywhere but proceedings are conducted in a correct manner; there are practice partners, the numbers on Wednesday 9th October being swelled by players for the forthcoming tournament.
The coaching session takes place in the side hall, six tables available, it will be the practice hall for the tournament, next door is the main hall; the walls of the venue being adorned with long well-presented vertical drapes promoting the competition. It has been the venue for many North American tournaments, eight tables meeting the necessary international regulations will be in position.
Notably as the coaching session progresses, the lorry with the tables for the tournament arrives; the next step adds to the sense of anticipation.
Simply, in both halls, there is a plethora of activity, a situation that very much reflects the principles of Nenad Bach and Will Shortz, the crossword writer for the New York Times and club owner.
“Managing time and people has been the biggest challenge; the world wide reaction has been quite phenomenal, very emotional, you know you are not alone. However, the most important factor is that the tournament brings people together; it is a non-pollution vehicle.” Nenad Bach
Quite simply Nenad Bach cannot wait for the first point to be played; when that happens his faith will have been vindicated, his attitude to life endorsed.
“People are sitting at home waiting to die. I play table tennis, I enjoy every day of my life; worry is out! It is totally different to music. Music is magic, when we play table tennis, we don’t know what is going to happen. I’m sure in the tournament good things will happen and that eventually we will reach our goal, a place in the Paralympic Games.” Nenad Bach.
A place in the Paralympic Games, the dream of the World Parkinson’s Championships has come true, why not another: Now that will be music to the ears of Nenad Bach.