16 Sep 2020

In alignment with the new ITTF Strategic Plan, the Member Association (MA) Categorisation was launched for the first time in 2018 with the primary aim to set up a more objective and needs-based approach, defining how the Continental Development funding should be split among the Continents, across the different areas that it covers and the programmes on offer.

The newly introduced concept was highly appreciated by stakeholders, MAs and Continental Federations, motivating the ITTF High Performance & Development team (HPD) to continue working on the model. HPD aims to expand and improve upon the set criteria, while continuing to review the current standards, with the Categorisation currently being used to define the type of support that each MA is eligible to receive through the Continental Development Program.

“The Categorisation is a living, breathing and constantly evolving model that we plan to review and update on biennial basis. We are aware that it isn’t perfect, if a perfect categorisation system exists at all, especially when dealing with such a complex mission that involves 226 Member Associations, each with their very specific situations, needs and realities. But we are very pleased that we launched it two years ago as it has immediately proved to be a precious tool for our Development Program. With the novelties and modifications we applied in 2020, we are further convinced that using such a system is the right way forward, because not only does it provide a more objective formula for the distribution of funding, but it also serves as an important benchmark for the membership about their level and status within the global Table Tennis community. Last, but not least, it also acts as an indicator of which areas require improvement and special attention. We sincerely hope with the new ITTF Development Plan that we published and presented just recently at our AGM related video conference, that we will be able to better address those needs and provide the right tools and opportunities to our members, enabling Table Tennis to grow and develop at a faster pace in all corners of the globe.” Polona Cehovin, ITTF High Performance and Development Director.

In the first two editions, only in-house data was used for the Technical Criteria (Competitions Department including Para Table Tennis, Umpires & Referees Committee, HPD Department records), mainly due to the lack of relevant and reliable data from, and about MAs – for instance: number of registered players and clubs, number of licensed coaches, organisational structure, Good Governance, national competitions system, and more that would help to develop a more comprehensive MA Development and Categorisation model.

“The work carried out by the ITTF, particularly the HPD team led by my colleague Ms. Polona Cehovin, completes the move to version 2.0 of the categorisation of our MAs. This new update will define a clear pathway and precise plan with objectives to be achieved in the short, medium, and long term. The most interesting aspect in this project is the fact that it affects all the components of our MAs, which has an impact from the top management of the federation to the coaches and club leaders. The categorisation will be a tool to interconnect all the projects set up by the various departments of the ITTF, ensuring consistency in the construction of the right model. I especially appreciate the fact that it will highlight the efforts of our MAs and consolidate the principle of merit.” Mounir Bessah, ITTF Member Relations Director.

2020 Categorisation Analysis and Outcome Summary

by Katarzyna Kubas, Continental Development Manager

In order to evaluate each Member Association, ITTF used four main criteria as follows: Technical, Match Official and Events, Demographics and Membership. The technical criteria reflect the player participation in senior, youth and PTT sanctioned events as well as players on the senior world ranking.

Match Officials & Events, refers to certified International Umpires and hosting of ITTF sanctioned events worldwide and at regional/continental level. The Demographics criteria highlights the Population and Human Development Index, while Membership refers to the number of years of ITTF Membership.

However, taking into account the fact that MA Categorisation is updated biennially and striving to be constantly enriched, ITTF High Performance and Development introduced significant novelties into the new version, which will be valid between 2021-2022.

The first visible change is the introduction of two borderline subcategories: Category Premium as part of the First Category and a split of the Fourth Category to Category 4A and Category 4B. Category Premium is created for self-sufficient MAs with medal achievements at World title events & Olympic Games, while Category 4B is for inactive Member Associations. Only Asia and Europe can boast of having MAs in Cat. 1 Premium, with 11 Member Associations.

46 Member Associations indicated as inactive, almost half of which, 20, hailed from the African continent, followed by Oceania with 10 and Latin America with 8. The other novelties are new criteria such as hosting of ITTF sanctioned events, and participation in High Performance Programmes too. In addition, the gender aspect is observed whenever possible and it has also been added for criteria related to Para Table Tennis and Match Officials.

The highest number of upgraded MAs belongs to Asia (13), Africa (11) and Latin America (9). The Continental Development Program 2019-2020 of each mentioned above, put particular focus on implementation of well-organised and enhanced grassroots projects, targeted at MAs with the greatest basic development needs. One of these worth to be highlighted, among others, is the new DNA Program which focuses on administrative support, assistance with creation of development pathway for athletes, coaches, officials and administrators, and table tennis development in educational settings including schools.

In addition, the recent professionalisation of the HPD department contributed to the upgrade of 38 MAs in total. Therefore, through individual approach, daily assistance and customised support, regular progress checks could be offered by Development Managers, Regional Development Officers and Participation Officers overseeing concerned continents and regions.

Europe boasted the highest number of MAs in the First Category. However, the continent also recorded the highest number of downgraded MAs when compared to the first edition of Categorisation.

Reflecting on the global picture, the decrease in the number of MAs in Category 4 is highly encouraging, with 14 fewer MAs being recorded, which is a six percent shift.

Finally, among 38 upgraded MAs in the revised MA Categorisation, 76% of MAs advanced from Cat. 4 to Cat. 3 which shows that ITTF is doing a tremendous and fruitful job, taking our ITTF Members to the next level and assisting them with table tennis development in their countries.

Click here for a detailed overview of the ITTF 2020 Member Association Categorisation.

High Performance and Development