ITTF Leadership has arrived in Tunis, Tunisia for the 2022 World Youth Championships, capping off a year full of developments for the sport of table tennis.
ITTF President Petra Sörling, ITTF Executive Vice President Khalil Al-Mohannadi, and ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton arrived in Tunisia after attending the first ever ITTF Summit in Amman, Jordan. There, the table tennis family spent two days having wide-ranging discussions about the future of the sport over the next five decades.
Now, leadership gets to see that future in action with the world’s top youth players competing for the mantle of World Champion through December 11.
A total of 198 players from 33 Members Associations will compete in two age categories: U-19 and U-15. Both Boys and Girls will compete in singles, doubles and team events in Tunis. Both categories will feature a mixed doubles event as well.
“Pivoting from high level conversations about the future of table tennis to seeing our youngest players compete at such a high-level competition in Tunis is a great reminder of why the work we do matters,” Sörling said. “The organisers in Tunis have done an incredible job with this event, creating a high-level atmosphere that is on part with senior level events.”
The World Youth Championships in Tunisia is the culmination of an effort by the country to boost table tennis offerings for its population, leading to the ITTF giving the country its 2022 ITTF Development Most Active Member Association Award.
For years, Tunisia has been dedicated to producing new crops of stars, with several development initiatives put in place. Since 2020, the member association has been working with the ITTF Development department under the Participation Programme framework, addressing a wide range of development areas and profiles through mentorship, “My Gender, My Strength”, and grants for Youth and Para players.
The country also hosted the Africa Hopes Week & Challenge, the flagship talent identification programme of the ITTF, and future talents such as Fadwa Garci, Wassim Essid, and Ela Saidi are making steady progress on the international stage.
“Not only Tunisia was the most active Member Association in the area of Development in 2022, it is also a role model in designing a very strategic approach to development, which is continuously evolving and enriched,” Polona Cehovin, ITTF Development Director, explained.
Tunisia also shows ambitions to organise competitions, becoming the first African nation to host World Table Tennis events in May 2021 with WTT Youth Star Contender Tunis. In the same year, Tunisia also hosted two WTT Youth Contender events and a WTT Contender event in October.
In 2022, Tunisia had hosted three WTT Youth Contender, one WTT Contender, as well as the annual African Youth Championships before ending the busy year with the World Youth Championships.
The 2022 World Youth Championships is the third successful World Championships hosted by the ITTF in the past months, all on three different continents. First, Chengdu, China successfully hosted the 2022 World Team Championships Finals, followed by Granada, Spain hosting the Andalucia 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships.
The reach of these events and the world-class atmosphere each created is a testament to the scale in which the ITTF has brought table tennis truly global. At each World Championship, the ITTF President, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Committee members attended, showing the commitment the federation’s current leadership has to each event.
“It has been a whirlwind end to 2022 for the ITTF, with three wonderful Championships to show for it, which now makes us feel confident of normalcy coming back to 2023” Dainton said. “As the federation ramps up events as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, our commitment to providing opportunities globally through this sport has never wavered. Now, best of luck to our youth players as they vie for the final World Championships of the year!”