05 May 2023

As the table tennis family gear up for the ITTF World Championships Finals in Durban, let us not forget the significant role played by match officials in ensuring fair play and the smooth running of the tournament. While the focus may be on the players, it is the officials who keep the game flowing and ensure that the rules are followed.

One umpire who has made his mark on the international scene is Akram Ben Attia, a Tunisian who made history last year when he received the gold badge from the International Table Tennis Federation. This achievement has made him the first African umpire to attain the highest officiating honour by the ITTF.

Ben Attia has proven himself time and time again as an outstanding umpire, having officiated in major events such as the 2022 WTT Cup finals in Xinxiang, China, Singapore Smash 2023 and he even had the honour of officiating the men’s teams final during the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships 2022 in Chengdu, China.

With the World Championships Finals returning to Africa after 84 years, Ben Attia expressed his excitement and stated, “Having the World Championships Finals in Durban is a great opportunity for the sport to grow in Africa. It is a chance to show the world that we have talented players, umpires, and referees on the continent who are capable of competing at the highest level. For me personally, being an African umpire officiating at the World Championships Finals is a dream come true. I hope it will inspire other Africans to pursue their dreams in table tennis and to work hard to become umpires, referees, or coaches. It’s a chance for all of us to show the world what we’re capable of.”

Akram Ben Attia is recognised for being the first African umpire to attain the gold badge.

His dedication to the sport and his achievement in attaining the gold badge is a testament to the hard work and training required to become a top-level table tennis umpire. It also highlights how the ITTF is committed to developing the sport globally by recognising and promoting not only players but also umpires and referees from diverse backgrounds.

As part of this commitment, the ITTF Development team has been working hard and organising courses to provide aspiring officials worldwide with the resources they need to upskill and contribute to the growth and development of the sport. These courses play a crucial role in developing new talent and maintaining a high standard of officiating across the globe. This year, with added focus on Africa, the team recently organised a Level Two National Referee Course in Ghana, where ten aspiring referees had the opportunity to pick up new information and learn the characteristics and responsibilities of a referee.

With the spotlight shining on Africa and the upcoming historical event just weeks away, this is an opportunity to showcase the talent and dedication of African match officials like Ben Attia, as well as the growth and development of the sport in the region. ITTF looks forward to a memorable event that highlights the best of table tennis and inspires future generations to become involved in the sport.

General News ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals Durban 2023

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