22 Jan 2020

Elected officially a member of the International Table Tennis Federation in 1984; splendidly located in the Arabian Sea to the south west of Sri Lanka; the Malvides is the current destination for Thomas Weikert, the ITTF President.

Taking a short break, escaping the cold of Germany for the rather hotter climes of the tropical archipelago, he took the opportunity to meet members of the Table Tennis Association of the Maldives.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Notably, Thomas Weikert held meetings with Ahmed Mahloof (Minister of Sport), Ali Waheed (Tourism Minister) and Ali Waheed (President of the Table Tennis Association of the Maldives) in addition to to Ahmed Marzooq (Secretary General of the Maldives National Olympic Committee).

The main topic was one of development in a country, the smallest in Asia, which has in recent times been prominent in promoting young players. Just over one year ago in 2018 from Friday 1st December to Friday 8th December, Thailand’s Parinya Nonsagate was the head coach at a highly rewarding South Asia Hopes Training Camp and Challenge.

Youngest player

Notably the initiative was staged, after in late April and early May, the Maldives had hit the headlines at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships.

Competing in the women’s event they did not cause a major sensation by securing a major victory nor by gaining progress from the third division; within their ranks they fielded the youngest player in the whole tournament and had the team with the greatest age difference.

At the time old Fathimath Dheema Ali, who has benefitted from the ITTF Hopes programme, was only 10 years old; three times younger than the leading member of the outfit, Mueena Mohamed who was 35 years of age.

Moreover, in any other team, the one remaining member would have been in line for the “youngest ever” vote; Aishath Rafa Nazim was only 14 years old! The sum total of ages of the whole team added up to less than retirement age!

Ideal venue

Promoting youth is high on the Maldives agenda, so for the government is the subject of tourism, the element of relaxation and enjoyment away from the office at the heart of the matter; so fun the factor, Thomas Weikert had no doubt that TTX could well prove popular.

Thomas Weikert is the first ITTF President to visit the Maldives; could there be a welcome return?

Gifts gratefully accepted from (left) Ali Washeed, Minister of Tourism and (right) Ahmed Marzooq, the Secretary-General of the Maldives National Olympic Committee (Photo: courtesy of the Table Tennis Association of the Maldives)
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