24 May 2023

A series of events and programmes have been organised in South Africa to encourage people of all ages to embrace the sport.

To promote table tennis participation and inspire the next generation, a series of activities and programmes have been organised in the city of Durban, South Africa. This is in conjunction with the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals 2023 to encourage people of all ages to embrace the sport.

The journey towards a brighter future for the sport starts with the young, and their participation in the Championships, be it as a fan or spectator, paves the way for a more inclusive and thriving table tennis community in South Africa. 

One such initiative is the Table Tennis Thursdays. It followed on from the position that sport is generally played on Thursdays at schools in the KwaZulu-Natal province. These students were therefore available to participate in table tennis without any restrictions. Table Tennis Thursdays exposed hundreds of school children to table tennis and witnessed the enthusiastic participation of numerous schools. The event will continue to be expanded after the World Championships.  

A Table Tennis Thursday event at a primary school in Tongaat

As the tournament unfolds, a range of activation events continues to fuel the passion for table tennis. The Durban International Convention Centre, the venue of the championships, has been transformed into a hub of table tennis activity. Numerous tables have been strategically placed throughout the venue, inviting fans and visitors to engage in the sport. These tables have proven to be a major hit, attracting not only seasoned players but also newcomers who are experiencing table tennis for the first time.  

Having a game of table tennis at Durban International Convention Centre

The South African table tennis team has also been visited several schools of Durban, which aiming to introduce hundreds of students to the sport. 

Activation event at the Orient Islamic School

Mr. Mansour, the principal of Orient Islamic School which welcomed the team on Wednesday 24 May, noted the students’ excitement upon having the opportunity to witness the athletes in person. The Orient Islamic School has a special historical relation to table tennis, as the final of the 1980 South Africa Open was held in the very same hall. The presence of Anver Lyners, the winner of that tournament, added a touch of nostalgia to the occasion. 

“I feel really great to be here with the South African team. Personally, for me, it is also a bit nostalgic because I won my very first title back in 1980, right here in this school, in this very hall. So, it is amazing to be back here. Now, we want to bring table tennis to these students, and we want to keep spreading the word and reaching out to more youths,” shared Anver Lyners, one of South Africa’s coaches, and former national champion. “Having the World Championships in South Africa is incredible; it is our great honour to gather the world’s best players in our city, and we hope this will inspire more people to get involved in the sport here in Africa.”  

During the visit, the students eagerly engaged with the South African team. Ilyas Fayzoo, a student from Orient Islamic School, expressed delight at the visit, saying, “It was really fun and nice to have the South African team at our school today, and I am so thrilled that we got to play with them. With the World Championships happening in Durban, I think it is a big game changer, helping to promote the city and the country. Some of us do play table tennis too, so to be in the same room with players of this level was amazing. I also saw some of my friends who have never played table tennis before picking up the rackets to play, and that was great to see!” 

Students of the Orient Islamic School together with the South African Table Tennis Team

Teachers from the Orient Islamic School challenged the coaches of the South African table tennis team to an exhibition game and received a token of appreciation for their participation. Official t-shirts were also distributed to the students who had the opportunity to play against the members of the South African team.  

Notably, the local organising committee (LOC) of the World Championships organisers have made a concerted effort to ensure that school children have access to the matches. Thousands of school children from schools in Umlazi, Inanda, Chatsworth, KwaMashu, and the Durban Central areas were also invited for the first time to witness the historic tournament, while receiving giveaways from event partner Liebherr.  

Students attend the World Championships and receive Liebherr giveaways

As part of an activation programme, complimentary tickets have been provided to students, allowing them to witness world-class table tennis action up close. The initiative aims to expose more children in South Africa to the sport, fostering a love for table tennis and potentially nurturing future talent.  

Follow all the action from the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals Durban 2023 on our website and stay up to date with the full results, draws and match schedules. Obtain free photos for editorial use here. The last few remaining tickets for the event can be purchased on the official ticketing website. Join us in Durban and witness history in the making! 

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