In a significant breakthrough, the ITTF Participation Program recently organised an on-site activity in Yemen, making table tennis the first International Federation to organise a physical activity in the country since 2015, just after the onset of the war. Held from 14 to 23 May, the event unfolded at Ahli Club in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, and represented a vital step towards reinvigorating the sport in a nation grappling with challenges.
Since the launch of the ITTF Participation Program in 2021, the Yemen Table Tennis Association has been actively involved in its activities, striving to grow and develop the sport in its country. Through engaging with ITTF experts via the ITTF Online Services, they began formulating the Member Association Development Plan, which includes crucial objectives like organising national tournaments to facilitate player development across different regions.
The DMA (Developing Member Associations) Activity conducted by ITTF proved to be a historic milestone, as it marked the first time an international federation had organised an onsite event in Yemen since 2015. The program commenced with a coaching session led by five prominent coaches, focusing on essential technical skills and talent identification programs.
Twenty-five dedicated players, comprising 17 males and 8 females, participated in the four-day training camp, which featured six hours of training per day. The camp was followed by a tournament that allowed the participants to showcase their improved skills. The attendees expressed immense satisfaction with the training, which included multi-ball training sessions, technical and tactical exercises, and valuable tips to enhance their competitiveness.
Hussam Nasser, the tournament winner, shared his excitement, stating, “I learned a lot from the camp, especially new information, techniques, and exercises that will undoubtedly help me improve my technical skills to compete internationally. By applying these techniques during training, I will hopefully be able to gain the ability and skills to excel in international tournaments.”
For Raghad Jamil, a female participant, table tennis has become an essential outlet for joy and solace amidst the challenging circumstances of war and political instability. She conveyed her gratitude, saying, “In this training camp, we learned a lot, and we truly believe that table tennis is more than just a sport—it is a life and a message of peace that we hope will resonate in Yemen. I aspire to become a champion of this sport.”
The program also dedicated two full days to teaching basic technical skills to school students. Khaled Ibn Alwaleed School served as the venue, where physical education teachers from both genders participated alongside 45 eager students. The training emphasised essential techniques such as grip, movement, and basic forehand and backhand strokes. The physical education teachers were entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the students under the tutelage of national team coaches.
The event not only focused on the development of able-bodied players but also embraced the Para table tennis community. In the final two days of the DMA Activity, Para table tennis players were given the opportunity to practise and compete. Mr. Ramzi Alsharabi, one of the Para table tennis players, expressed his delight at the inclusive nature of the DMA program. He stated, “I’m very delighted that the DMA has included para table tennis throughout the program, and a tournament was organized too. This will motivate me to continue training and developing my technical skills.”
Mr. Mohammed Al-Ahjeri, the Secretary General of Yemen Olympic Committee, expressed his gratitude to ITTF and the Yemen Table Tennis Association for the comprehensive activity, which he believes will benefit the entire table tennis community in Yemen. He added: “We are so proud that the ITTF expert Fahd Gubran is a former Yemeni table tennis player. This will be a motivation for Yemeni players and coaches, and will help us to achieve more on the national and international level”.
Mr. Motahar Zabarah, the Secretary General of the Yemen Table Tennis Association, extended his heartfelt appreciation to ITTF for the impactful DMA Activity amid Yemen’s challenging circumstances. He emphasised that this program represents an opportunity to rejuvenate and revitalise table tennis in Yemen, not only on-site but also through subsequent online post-activities. He also expressed the association’s commitment to further cooperation with ITTF in the future, adding, “We would like to thank ITTF for initiating the Participation Program and for supporting the implementation of the DMA Activity. We are also looking forward to more cooperation in the future.”
The ITTF Participation Program in Yemen stands as a testament to the power of sport in transcending adversity. Through such initiatives, Yemen’s table tennis fraternity can take the first steps toward rebuilding and being part of the global sporting landscape once more.
Click here for more information on the ITTF Participation Program.