19 Feb 2021

With an incidence rate of 89 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the Coronavirus pandemic reached a peak last December in Croatia. Adding to the crisis, the central part of the southeastern European country was hit by a series of devasting earthquakes. A humanitarian disaster, lives were lost, buildings and infrastructure destroyed.

By Ian Marshall

Thanks to #TableTennisUnited Fundraising Campaign the national association is now receiving help for three of the most affected clubs; support is being afforded for rebuilding projects and the efforts of coaches to fulfill their roles in unprecedented times.

Co-operation, understanding, and patience are very much the watchwords, facts stressed by Thomas Weikert, ITTF and ITTF Foundation President.

“United we stand, together we will overcome! Croatia is seeing a tough time with Coronavirus and the recent earthquakes. One year ago, we could not even imagine that it would take so long to beat this virus. It makes me sad to see such a tragedy within our table tennis family. However, I am proud of our ITTF group which, once more, shows that our union is strong enough to effectively support those who are in dire need!” Thomas Weikert

The fundraising campaign is a joint measure created by the ITTF group and managed through the Foundation. The initiative collects donations, forwarding them to members and organisations within the entire table tennis family whether national, regional, or local, coaches or athletes in need.

Sisak-Moslavina county highlights the need; the rural area presents difficult economic conditions for its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, generations of quality young players have emerged from local clubs, some reaching national level. Currently prevented from practising due to both equipment and the training hall being destroyed, thanks to the Croatian Table Tennis Association, players and coaches are very much looking forward to the damaged tables being replaced.

Balls, rackets, rubbers, clothing, and initial coaches’ salaries, valued at US 10,000, are being covered by the #TableTennisUnited Fundraising Campaign.

Zlatko Pospiš, President of the Croatian Table Tennis Association welcomed the support.

“All Croatian table tennis players, coaches, and members of our association are very grateful for the support. The clubs affected are very important for Croatian table tennis and very important and have high profile players. Currently, they have to travel to Zagreb to play. CTTA will assist them wherever possible to get back to training as soon as possible.

Similarly, it was a most grateful Zoran Primorac (Chair of the ITTF Athletes Commission), one of the most patriotic Croatians of all; expressed his gratitude for the support afforded to his home country.

“Many thanks to the ITTF Foundation and Table Tennis United for their generous donation.  A terrible earthquake, together with a pandemic, shook the whole of Croatia. For me as a Croat, this help means a lot, it will alleviate the pain of my fellow citizens and give us hope that we will soon return to play table tennis  and recover from this tragedy.” Zoran Primorac

Including the recent support to Croatia, a total of seven national table tennis associations have benefitted from this initiative: notably Australia, DPR Korea, Senegal, Lebanon, Kosovo, Tahiti, and now Croatia. Bhutan has applied and is currently under consideration.

(Photos: courtesy of CTTA)


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