What does it mean to be here, in Amman, just days before the first-ever ITTF Summit?
Petra Sörling: Well, it is incredible to be received by our Jordanian hosts and I want to thank them personally for offering to accommodate this wonderful event. The last two years have been very disruptive in terms of conducting federation business and maintaining key relationships with stakeholders around the world.
Having a singular event that the entire table tennis family can gather for is just so important not just in terms of catching up but in physically being present. That is an incredibly restorative process. We saw it as events began to ramp up in 2022, and we have heard feedback saying how important live events are. We want to apply that to everyone in our entire movement.
Steve Dainton: Table Tennis as a sport is at an inflection point. With the launch of World Table Tennis, and the updates made to our strategic plan, we are in great shape to make wholesale, necessary changes to our federation and the commercial aspects of our sport. Having a summit where we can candidly discuss the pertinent issues of our federation having as many perspectives present as possible, is just a thrilling possibility. I cannot wait to dive in with my colleagues.
What do you plan on discussing at the Summit?
PS: At the summit, stakeholders will be working to address the future of the sport of table tennis through keynote speakers, commission meetings and the Annual General Meeting. Near term thinking will be encouraged, but we also want to look beyond at how the sport of table tennis will be played fifty years from now, and how the ITTF can be a leading federation worldwide to reach those goals.
Sustainability will be a key message discussed throughout the entire Summit, as it has been a major priority of my mandate since being elected ITTF President. Be on the lookout for some key announcements related to sustainability this week in Amman.
Do you plan to discuss the finances of the Federation at the Summit?
SD: We are very happy to be presenting an updated financial outlook to our Member Associations ahead of the annual general meeting in Amman. Also, panels about the future of table tennis as a sporting industry should produce some lively discussions. I am excited to personally share how World Table Tennis has reshaped our commercial activities, and how it is setting the ITTF Group up for long-term sustained success.
A session to look out for during the Summit is on how the athlete experience and entourage is expected to change in the next half-century. This kind of long-term thinking is so important to dissecting industry trends and learning how we can best grow our sport.
What else can participants expect in Amman?
PS: Another panel I am excited to attend is one about the future of our federation, where we will discuss good governance reviews. Over the last year the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations has launched a governance review of its members. We plan to discuss how to learn from this review and extend those lessons to all our stakeholders at the continental and national level. The ITTF is always looking to improve, and this is one area I am excited for our discussions about.
SD: The beauty of this ITTF Summit is we are providing our stakeholders with a professional event on a scale that many have not had the chance to participate in, while being in person. We hope this preparation shows how the ITTF Group has been approaching its broader professionalization drive, mirroring how World Table Tennis has raised standards for all our sporting events. As we move into the future the ITTF Group will be stronger and more professional, this summit is one of the first steps in showing that.