Maria Christoforaki, a Greek table tennis athlete and coach based in Sweden, faced uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened her career. However, her perseverance, coupled with the invaluable support of the #TableTennisUnited Fund by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) group, propelled her forward, leading her to play a pivotal role in Sweden’s inaugural Girl Festival which took place on 21st June 2023.
ITTF and ITTF Foundation President Petra Sörling, who graced the festival with her visit, along with Thomas Buza, head of the SBTF, and Maria, were deeply moved and profoundly inspired by the unwavering dedication displayed by the participants. The festival served as a vibrant testament to the transformative power of table tennis, bringing immense joy and positive change to countless lives.
The #TableTennisUnited Fund, a joint effort by the ITTF Foundation, ITTF, and World Table Tennis, provided crucial financial aid and equipment support to the global table tennis community during the pandemic. Recognised for its outstanding COVID-19 response, the campaign has assisted around 150 initiatives and individuals worldwide.
Expressing her heartfelt gratitude, Maria said, “The help from the ITTF Group was crucial and proved instrumental during these tough times. Losing my job and not being able to play table tennis was disheartening but their support allowed me to fulfil my responsibilities and pursue my passion in a foreign country.”
With the assistance received, Maria not only continued her involvement in table tennis but also became a respected coach and women’s strategist within the Swedish Table Tennis Association (SBTF). Her unwavering dedication and expertise have inspired young players and fostered a community of courage and camaraderie.
Maria’s impactful journey led her to play a key role in organising Sweden’s first Girl Festival held in Halmstad. Building on the city’s previous support during the 2018 World Table Tennis Championships, the fully booked festival brought together over a hundred enthusiastic girls aged between 8 and 90, actively engaging in a range of captivating table tennis activities at the esteemed Halmstad Arena. Under Maria’s guidance, the participants were divided into three groups, each led by passionate mentors. The festival soon became a celebration of diversity and unity, empowering women of all ages, regardless of disabilities, as they discovered the profound impact of collective effort and mutual empowerment.
Maria’s story is a testament to the resilience and empowerment that can be achieved through support and unity in challenging times.
Read more inspiring stories at ITTF Foundation’s website.