by Ian Marshall, Editor
Under the leadership of Papa Anthioumane Diagne, President of the Senegalese Table Tennis Federation, encouraging young people to play table tennis is at the very base of the strategy.
“The first pillar of the Senegalese Federation’s development plan is the sustainable implementation of table tennis practice in a school environment. Therefore, 26 physical education teachers from eight provinces attended a basic coaching course held in the Léopold Senghor Stadium, home of the association’s headquarters and national training centre; this activity was followed by the visit of Saint Jullien Eynard secondary school, where 600 kids cheered for their new idol Iba Diaw during his exhibition match.” Nicolas Petit
Significantly, Nicolas Petit and Ibrahima Diaw visited the OlympAfrica center in Somone, opened in 1988 by the late Juan Antonio Samaranch, at the time President of the International Olympic Committee. Now 40 such centres throughout Africa exist, thousands of young people can participate in sport.
In addition Ibrahima Diaw conducted training sessions for members of the national team, donating equipment to help the players progress. Furthermore, alongside Nicolas Petit he visited Diamniadio, the venue for the table tennis events at the forthcoming Youth Olympic Games.
“I am very thankful to ITTF for giving me the opportunity to be part of this mission. It is my first time back in my native country since 2012, I really enjoyed sharing all these moments with my association. The team here is really motivated and competent, they have initiated important projects for which I’d like to bring my full support. We can feel the strong dynamic in the country around the Youth Olympic Games; this is the perfect timing for us to reach the next level. It gives me even more motivation to return to the hall to train hard and obtain the best results!” Ibrahima Diaw
High levels of participation but undersandably the focus is on the Senegal 2022 Youth Olympic Games.
In preparation the country will host the 2020 West Regional Championships and 2021 Youth Championships. Thus under the direction of Nicolas Petit a tournament organisation course is planned.
Most certainly, the national association is highly motivated; a project for the building of a national training centre, supported by the Ministry of Sports was a ppropsal high on the agenda when Nicolas Petit and Ibrahima Diaw met local officials. Notably, Eiffage, a French company, has indicated interest in the project; furthermore the Chinese Embassy has expressed a willingness to assist with funding and to provide a coach.
“With the hosting of the YOG 2022 and Iba joining the senior national team, our association feels blessed! It gives us the responsibility to work hard for taking full benefit of these opportunities by implemeting sustainable projects, such as the school development project and the building of a national training centre. The ITTF support combined with the presence of Iba gave invaluable input while meeting the key stakeholders of the country in support of these projects.” Papa Anthioumane Diagne
Thanks to Nicolas Petit for his efforts and especially to Ibrahima Diaw who demonstrated a strong commitment to give back to his country.