21 Sep 2022

The ITTF is among the first international federations with an Athletes' Entourage group

A place on the podium, the player receives the accolades, success a reward for fulfilling potential and downright hard work but there is more, a background team makes such success possible.

Currently, Petra Sörling, ITTF President, and Raul Calin, ITTF Secretary-General, alongside Jean-Michel Saive, the 1994 European champion and President of the Belgian National Olympic Committee, are present at Olympic House in Lausanne to meet members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The subject matter is the establishment of an ITTF Athletes’ Entourage Group.

The ITTF Executive Committee decided to establish an Entourage Group in March 2022. As a member of the IOC Athletes’ Entourage commission and with such a body already in existence in the Belgium NOC; Jean-Michel Saive will lead the group alongside Masahiro Maehara, who assumes the portfolio on behalf of the ITTF Executive Committee.

“I am delighted and honoured to lay the foundations for the ITTF Athletes’ Entourage Group. Having an educated and qualified entourage is the key to success for an athlete. By establishing an Athletes’ Entourage Group, the ITTF will raise standards for its players, promote awareness on key issues, and act as a point of contact for all table tennis entourage members.” Jean-Michel Saive

It is estimated on average, approximately 80 per cent of information an athlete receives is provided by the coach but demands continue grow from ever wide ranging spheres.

The television camera and social media are omnipresent. Commercial, media demands, contractual arrangements, commitments to sponsors are major items which face an athlete, as are such matters as health and ethics. The list seems never ending.

Thus, there is the need for a support organisation which is aware of current key issues in sport.

The creation of this group was the conclusion of feedback received by ITTF President, Petra Sörling, in relation to the necessity of paying more attention to all the persons who gravitate around a player.

Establishing best practices is the foundation, a group tailored to the specific needs of the sport in question; most importantly, having the necessary resources is a vital ingredient in providing backing. Doctors, physiotherapists and lawyers alongside partners, parents and whoever fulfill a most needed role.

The Entourage Group is the point of contact.

Forming the principles for such an organisation, the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission was established in 2010, the initiative being the idea of the late Jacques Rogge, at the time President of the IOC.

Chair of the Commission is Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, an athlete with firsthand knowledge of the need for a strong support team. A pole vaulter, he broke the world record 35 times, became the first to clear six metres, the pinnacle of his career being gold at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Now, very much the International Table Tennis Federation seizes the mantle being one of the first international federations presently promoting Athletes’ Entourage; an example is being set.

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