A major step forward in February 2018 with the staging of an ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament, now four years later a WTT Contender Series event; those achievements alone underline the progress made in recent years by the Oman Table Tennis Federation.
In October 2021 a WTT Youth Contender tournament was staged; more significantly table tennis has been introduced in the school curriculum, a Memorandum of Understanding being agreed with the Ministry of Education earlier this year on Wednesday 19th January.
Now looking ahead, the World Veteran Championships, an event that could well witness an entry of over 4,000 players plus family members to double the number, is set for 2023.
However, that is not all; thanks to the efforts of a President Abdullah Mohammed Bamakhalif. We asked him five questions.
You have introduced table tennis in the school curriculum; how was this achieved?
Named the “Future Champions” project, the aim is to provide 282 schools with all the necessary equipment including tables, balls, and rackets, in addition to delivering workshops for the teachers.
The Oman Table Tennis Federation has worked hard during recent years to involve the government and the private sector in the development of table tennis.
One of the significant steps was signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oman School Sports Association; this enabled the Federation to focus more on students and boost table tennis in schools. Also, it was the basis to develop potential young players and engage them in the national team; to prepare them for future assignments.
How do young players progress from school to a table tennis club?
We are establishing talent detection by organising youth centres across the Sultanate, appointing professional coaches to lead the national team technical staff as well as developing players, coaches, umpires and referees for international events.
Moreover, the annual agenda is set after several discussions with clubs that include a variety of events such as domestic and international tournaments, training and education seminars plus workshops for coaches, players, and referees.
Oman also hosted several events recently. Is this aimed at inspiring this new generation of players?
We have worked closely with related government entities and other private partners to support our initiatives to spread the sport in Oman, including the hosting of major events. In recent years we have hosted such events as the Arab Championship, ITTF Challenge Plus, ITTF Hopes and Cadet Week, WTT Youth Contender and WTT Contender.
All the regional and international events in Muscat have been delivered with outstanding organisation which meets the requirements of federations. Our goal is to set Oman as a global destination to host mega table tennis events. We want to also strengthen our valuable relations as well as raising the profile of table tennis in Oman.
Who are your closest partners in this endeavour?
The Federation is very keen to involve all related parties in table tennis. All players, coaches, umpires, government representatives, private sector partners, and others shared diverse ideas and initiatives for the development of table tennis in Oman. We established our own strategic vision, for 2020 to 2024 after a series of workshops with all related parties to ensure having the right foundation.
Also, we maintain a close relationship with regional, continental, and international federations.
What’s next for the Oman Table Tennis Federation?
We are gearing up now to host the 2023 ITTF World Veteran Championships in Muscat. I am grateful for the continuous support that Oman receives from ITTF. Special thanks to the ITTF team for their trust and confidence in Oman to deliver and host world class events in recent years.