by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Media Officer
Great credit goes to Guerfel and the team he put in place.
A most impressive 148 players, 84 men and 64 women from 37 member associations, converged on Tunis for a tournament where world ranking points were at stake and a total prize fund of US$ 75,000 on offer.
“I’m very happy, we are honoured to organise the first ever WTT Contender, not only in Tunisia, but in Africa. I thank all members of our team, all our partners and sponsors, especially the WTT, the National Office of Tourism, National TV Watania 1, Kia, Orthomed, Smedi, Mira, Agil, and El Buhaira for their huge support.” Lotfi Guerfel
Certainly, a milestone, the first ever WTT Contender tournament for Africa, the organisers built of the experience of having staged Youth Star Contender tournament earlier in the year in May.
“We really benefited from the experience we got by organising successfully the WTT Youth Star contender in May 2021, and the WTT Youth Contender in September 2021. It wasn’t easy due to the pandemic situation, but we succeeded. We also learnt a lot from organising this event, especially in IT, media and live streaming. We realised the importance of a good preparation for an event before the start.” Lotfi Guerfel
Learning from experience helped make the tournament a success; equally the support received added greatly to the overall outcome.
“I want to thank all WTT staff for their support and their help, the WTT President, WTT Deputy President, Steve Dainton, Stephen Duckit and all at WTT because without them it couldn’t have happened. We hope to host the event next year, even yearly afterwards, if we get the support from a sponsor who accepts to power the event.” Lotfi Guerfel
Pleased with the outcome of both tournaments, Guerfel is not sitting on his laurels; there is no doubt he wishes to build on the success gained.
“I am very satisfied with the success of WTT Contender Tunis because it is a tier-1 level tournament with top players from over 37 countries. We are happy to bring WTT to Tunisia and to be able to watch amazing matches. We are continuing in the same line organising youth events; this year, we signed an agreement with the WTT which would last until 2024 to organise WTT youth events. It wasn’t possible before because we had elections in March 2021. In 2022, we will also host the World Youth Championship for the first time in Tunisia.” Lotfi Guerfel
Raising the bar
Undoubtedly the aim is to raise the bar in terms of hosting major competitions on the world table tennis calendar.
“I hope we can continue to host the WTT Contender yearly to raise the level of organisation and to see top players come to Tunisia; with all modesty, I can confirm that the Table Tennis Federation of Tunisia is now on a higher level on the table tennis map, and this is due to the work of all my colleagues in the team. In Tunisia we want to organise more events in the future, but without support, it would be difficult; that is why I hope that the WTT and the ITTF will continue to support the TTTF until we are ready to organise events by ourselves with minimal support from them.” Lotfi Guerfel
Unquestionably, in Tunisia standards are rising and, as with many organisations there is the one vital making this possible, a motivating force, the name is Lotfi Guerfel