17 Apr 2023

ITTF concludes first-ever Player’s Entourage Group Meeting, with the aim of maintaining open communication and collaboration with players and their entourage.

On 12 April, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) organised the first-ever Player’s Entourage Group Meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Positioned as an introductory meeting to define the missions of the Group, it represents a step forward in ITTF’s role of advancing the sport of table tennis with increased players’ engagement and paying more attention to all the persons who gravitate around them. 

The Entourage Group was established by the ITTF Executive Board last year, with the intention of streamlining communication lines between athletes and the group of people associated with promoting their sporting careers. It will also function as an advisory board to the Executive Board, to drive discussions for the overall betterment of the sport. Since its inception, the Group has been led by Jean-Michel Saive, 1994 European champion and President of the Belgian National Olympic Committee, alongside ITTF Executive Vice President Masahiro Maehara. 

Said Jean-Michel Saive, “I am very proud to take the lead of the new ITTF Entourage Group. The vibe and the spirit in the meeting were excellent, with a wide range of topics discussed. With the global group composition that we had, there was just so much to learn from each other. We were so glad to see people from different trades being so willing to contribute to the well-being of table tennis, and this initiative represents a promising start to the future of our sport.” 

ITTF President Petra Sörling also emphasised the importance of the meeting, adding, “The ITTF is committed to support players on and off the field of play, and to improve the quality and level of services we must also engage their entourage.” 

At the meeting, topics closely related to the guiding principles of the Entourage Group were discussed, with the goal of enhancing the standard and calibre of services provided to athletes by bringing together and involving their support teams. This group of individuals can consist of parents, coaches, agents, doctors, physiotherapists, sponsors, training partners, and other direct associates.


Masahiro Maehara gave praise to the initiative, saying, “Within my memory of being an Executive Board member, this is the first meeting where we have had people with different backgrounds gather to talk about how to better the future of table tennis. In line with the growth of our sport, we have also made many changes to take us to the next level. It was certainly insightful to hear opinions from not only people within table tennis, but from different trades as well. With the input of the Entourage Group, we hope to elevate table tennis to even greater heights.” 

Other officials who were present at the meeting includes Raul Calin, ITTF Secretary-General, Mikael Andersson, ITTF Sports Director, Pacinthe Osman, Jasna Rather, Mohanad Kabbani, Linus Mernsten, Kate Mcloughlin, and Miyuki Yamaguchi.  

The Entourage Group will meet on a regular basis, with the aim of maintaining open communication and collaboration with players and their entourage. It recognises the importance of involving stakeholders in decision-making processes and is committed to working with the table tennis community to shape the future of the sport. 

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