03 Mar 2022

As the world is slowly emerging from a global pandemic towards and reurning to its ways, lessons learned during the pandemic should remain on our regular program. As such, the established ITTF Mentorship Program launched in July 2021 as the ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program. An integral part of the 2021 ITTF Development Plan, the ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program serves to support promising and talented coaches and match officials by enhancing their knowledge and skills, and significantly contributes to their growth by establishing a relationship between mentor and mentee.

The 2021 ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program allowed mentees to learn from experienced and respected experts in their fields over a four-month long mentoring experience (September to December). It combined both theoretical and practical know-how, which was gained through regular and interactive online sessions and assignments. Specifically, the program consisted of four main mentoring categories: coaches, athletes transitioning into coaching, umpires and referees.

Mentees were selected through an online application process, during which more than 160 applicants from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania expressed their interest in the initiative by submitting their application, along with written support of their Member Associations (MAs).

Considering the overwhelming number of applications, the final selection required a thorough analysis of the submitted candidate profiles. At the end, the program offered a truly customized mentorship opportunity to 42 mentees from 28 Member Associations across four continents, who were matched with 21 highly experienced mentors in their relative field. Across the program, gender balance was achieved.

“It was a “vice versa” course. I learn also a lot as my mentees were both from different continent with different ways of thinking about how to solve a problem.” Constantina Crotta, mentor of referees

“The mentees can learn and get a lot of experience through this period, what they can use in the future. I really liked, that the mentees had clear ideas in which area they want to improve. It is very important to keep this kind of freedom for the mentees of choosing the directions they want learn” Batorfi Zoltan, mentor of coaches

The ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program consists of three phases: preparation, implementation, and evaluation.

During the first phase, both mentor and mentee worked closely together in identifying the key learning points based on the mentees’ needs and aspirations. The second part focused on the implementation, where the mentors prepared and applied customized learning methods to adapt to the objectives set during first phase. Every month started with a theoretical online session and concluded with an interactive online session. Between the sessions, the mentees were tasked with a monthly assignment. The third and last phase was the evaluation, where the mentors evaluated the mentees’ overall progress and learning pathway.

It was very beneficial to collaborate with fellow international umpires, share experiences and knowledge and realize that we can all learn from each other. Through the assignments that needed to be completed, it challenged my thinking and understanding of the rules and asked me to think about ways in which some rules could be changed to better the sport in the future.“ Samuel Miller, mentee

“The program is incredible, the knowledge that can be acquired in it has no equal, in addition to the exchange of experiences that can be done.” Marcos Tavares, mentee

“The ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program has really given me more insight in umpiring. The live sessions which I always looked forward to, have given me more confidence. In the assignments I saw myself being challenged and after each assignment, I was sharper and fulfilled.  My mentor on his side was so amazing! He was patient with us & was always willing to impact us with knowledge and attend to our individual challenges at the cause of the study.” Kalu Rita, mentee

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