At ITTF Challenge tournaments, Kirill Gerassimenko reached the men’s singles semi-final in 2017 in Poland, the following year in Thailand before in 2020 winning in Spain.
Equally, on home soil, led Daniyar Abulgazin, President of Table Tennis Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, major strides have been witnessed in recent years. Most notably in November 2020, in the presence of the country’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a National Training Centre was opened in Karaganda.
Danil Pak, General Secretary of Table Tennis Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, spoke to Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Media Officer.
What prompted the setting up table tennis training centres in Kazakhstan?
The development of table tennis became noticeable after the election of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as President of the Kazakhstan Table Tennis Federation.
He headed the National Federation for 13 years; his contribution was invaluable. The numbers actively involved in table tennis now reaches more than 200,000 with around 8,000 athletes involved in professional training every day.
Table tennis is promoted in all 17 regions of the country. More and more kids have started playing, we are creating better conditions for them to practise. We have opened four modern table tennis centres, located in Almaty, Karaganda, Pavlodar, and Taraz; by the end of this year, there will be three more, situated in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Aktobe and Shymkent.
It is important to note the collaboration of the National Federation with the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the National Olympic Committee, and the regional physical culture and sports departments. This has resulted in positive results, more young promising talents are identified; permanent table tennis halls are being opened, more attention is given to the development of coaches and match officials.
What has been the response to recent initiatives?
On 3rd November 2020, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, opened the Saryarka Table Tennis Centre in Karaganda City.
The President noted the importance of mass sports’ development and the need to increase numbers engaged in physical culture and sports. He also expressed confidence that the centre would promote a healthy lifestyle, popularising table tennis in the region and country in general.
Table tennis fans, and the entire sporting community of Kazakhstan were delighted to see the first modern table tennis centre, not only in Kazakhstan, but also in the Central Asian region, one which meets very high standards. Thanks to the conditions created in the Karaganda region the number of those involved in table tennis has significantly increased, playing levels have risen, the effect being the opening of a professional table tennis club.
How do you think the new generation will respond?
One of the important factors in the development of any sport is infrastructure. We are assured that creating good training conditions for athletes and coaches will give a great impetus to the development of table tennis in our country. It is one of the most popular sports.
Recently, a young promising Kazakhstani player, Alan Kurmangaliev, has shown very good results in the international arena. He won nine medals at various WTT Youth events; his excellent results allowed him to emerge in top spot on the Under 15 Boys’ World Ranking.
New table tennis centres in different cities of Kazakhstan means more and more kids are becoming interested in table tennis. A well organised infrastructure and mass participation will allow us to attract and develop a new generation of athletes. We hope they will gain even better results and bring more medals to Kazakhstan.
Are there plans to host major ITTF/WTT events in near future?
We hosted the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in 2017. The event was very successful. In 2021 we organised the first ITTF Kazakhstan International Open, our players won two gold and three bronze medals. It was a remarkable achievement for our players.
Following the success stories and the experience we have gained in organising big international tournaments, we plan to host a WTT Star Contender event and a Youth Contender event in Almaty. The events will be held in the new ADD table tennis centre, opened in March 2022, a sports complex with a total area of 5,200 square metres meeting international requirements.
There is a big competition hall and training hall, a hotel which can accommodate 79 guests plus a food court with all the modern facilities.
What are the future aspirations of the Federation?
The ADD table tennis centre opened on 11th March 2022 is the base for the “CNPC – Table Tennis Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. The academy will become the main national training hub for national team players and coaches, we have invited a highly qualified coach from China. We also believe that the Almaty centre will become a very good venue for organising international training camps.
In addition, as part of the implementation programme, following the message from our President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, we will focus on youth development and mass participation. In this regard, the National Federation will launch “Table tennis in secondary schools”, a pilot project in 100 schools in Kazakhstan, table tennis lessons as part of extra-curricular activities.
Of course, we will focus on development in regional centres. We will continue to open new sports halls and strengthen the material and technical base. We hope excellent playing conditions, opportunities for our coaches, match officials, and administrators will help to bring our sport to a higher level; our players shining in the international arena.