20 Feb 2023

The ITTF Mentorship Program serves to support promising and talented coaches, match analysts, and match officials to enhance their knowledge, and skills and significantly contribute to their growth through the established mentoring relationship between the mentor and the mentee. It provides an exceptional learning experience for the mentees and provides a platform to exchange experiences and ideas.

Mentees were selected through an online application process, where more than 240 applicants applied for the program, through which 37 mentees from 25 Member Associations (TUN, SEN, GHA, EGY, ZIM, ANG, GUY, GRN, BRA, ECU, ARG, MEX, CRC, COL, TTO, CHN, NEB, IRI, MYA, IND, SRL, NZL, PNG, AUS, TGA) and 4 continents were selected.

The program offered 3 different mentoring areas: coaching, match officiating, and match analytics. The mentees had a great opportunity to learn from experienced mentors. Some had the chance to prepare their athletes for major tournaments, others had the chance to prepare for the umpire advanced rules examination, and others were preparing for the future International Referee Schools. Overall, the experience supported the mentees in gaining knowledge and advancing to the next level of their careers.


The Chinese History maker Hou Yingchao became the oldest-ever China national champion at the age of 39 in 2019 when he won the national championship 19 years after last winning the event. In 2022, he took part in the Mentorship program as a coach mentee and was mentored by Liu Yajnjun, the Austrian Women’s national team coach. They worked closely through a 4-month long mentoring experience, where Liu shared his 26 years of coaching experience with his mentee.

“This is the first time for me to join the ITTF Mentorship program, and I found it is really a good idea. My mentee was a very good player, and I have had 26 years of international coaching experience. It is very easy for us to understand each other. In this program, we can really focus working on certain topics in details.” – Liu Yanjun (AUT), mentor

Gdara Hmam, national coach for Tunisia and mentee in last year’s program had an outstanding 2022,  winning 2 gold medals in the WTT Youth Contender Tunis with the Tunisian rising star Ella Saidi. He also secured a U15 gold medal and a U19 Silver medal with the Women’s teams in the African Championships. Through this, the Mentorship Program and his mentor Jean-Claude Decret (FRA) supported him to prepare his athletes for the several international championships throughout the second half of the year, especially the preparation for the World Youth Championships in Tunis.

Jean-Claude also guided Mamadou Salif from Senegal, who is involved in a national provisional committee in Senegal. They worked together to develop a strategy to develop table tennis, young athletes and new coaches in the different regions of Senegal. Their development strategy was important to support the next Youth Olympic Games 2026 where their goal is to develop the infrastructure for table tennis in several provinces.

This program meets the real needs of applicants. It is an important training and dialogue space to exchange and advise people on their issues” – Jean-Claude Decret (FRA), mentor

Match Analytics

The match analytics area was introduced for the first time in the 2022 cycle of the Mentorship Program and was delivered through our partner Stupa Analytics. 9 mentees from 3 continents were matched with 4 mentors from Stupa Analytics who introduced them to data requirements and different techniques of the match analytics area.

“I had a Psychological Trainer from the USA with whom I took various sessions. But now with Stupa I want to be connected more and take frequent sessions. It was a great opportunity for me, I really enjoyed the program and learned a lot, I hope that many programs can be held in the future to improve the technical knowledge of coaches” – Fatemeh Keyvani (IRI), mentee

“Overall, it has definitely been a tremendous experience to connect with the mentees across the continents. “ – Saurav Basotia, Creative Media and Marketing Manager Stupa Analytics, mentor

Para TT Coaching

Para Table Tennis was introduced for the 2nd consecutive year in the Mentorship Program, where two PTT Coaches from Asia joined the program as mentees, and were mentored by the Argentina PTT national coach Alejandra Gabaglio.

“I am extremely grateful to ITTF for giving me this opportunity to learn and use my skills as a Coach in the PTT category. I really feel fortunate to have Alejandra Gabaglio as my mentor in this program who has such vast knowledge and experience in the field of Para Table Tennis. Looking forward to implementing all the newly learned skills in the training sessions with my PTT athletes.” – Biken Thapa (NEP), mentee

Match Officiating

Cross-cultural exchange of experience was one of the main aims of the 2022 Mentorship Program, especially for match officials, where mentees from Africa and Asia were matched with very experienced mentors from Europe in the areas of Umpiring and refereeing, where they had the chance to discuss many aspects and get proper guidance to advance to the next level of their career as future International Referees or Blue Badge Umpires.

“Both of my mentees were international umpires who are willing to proceed and become International Referees,this mentorship project gives great opportunities to the officials to be improved and to reach higher levels. I always enjoy being part of it. “ – Tina Crotta, WTT Para Events and Match Officials Manager, mentor

“We have created a great team atmosphere, working together on our topic – to be better table tennis umpires. We decided to have an online session also later, just to see each other and discuss interesting aspects of umpiring our beloved sport.” – Roman Klecker (CZE), mentor

The 2022 Mentorship Program concluded with mentees’ evaluation sessions which allow them to identify their strengths and areas for improvement so that they can continue working on their development further.

Following a successful 2022, we look forward to having even more fruitful collaborations in 2023!

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