30 Jun 2023

In June, two Asian Member Associations, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, were beneficiaries of Olympic Solidarity-supported coaching courses. Olympic Solidarity’s primary mission is to provide assistance to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for athlete development programs, particularly those with the greatest need, in that NOCs may fulfil their responsibilities to the Olympic Movement while adhering to the IOC’s strategy.

From 4-14 June, the MA of Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the local National Olympic Committee, organized an ITTF-PTT Level 1 and an ITTF Level 2 coaching course. Led by ITTF Development Programs Manager Mohammad Atoum, the two courses took place at the table tennis academy in Riyadh, one of the most active training centers in the country for able-bodied and Para table tennis players. The venue not only provided excellent facilities for practical table tennis elements but also had resources for physical preparation and classroom-based learning.

Over the past years, the Saudi Table Tennis Federation has made significant progress in developing table tennis within the country. They have established training centers for Para and able-bodied male and female players across different regions, increased the number of affiliated clubs, and prioritized the recruitment of highly experienced coaches. Additionally, local coaches have been given opportunities for improvement. Women’s development has also been a focus, with dedicated training centers opening nationwide and the inclusion of women’s competitions in the annual calendar. One of the notable achievements for Saudi Arabia in the West Asia region was the qualification of Ali Alkhadrawi for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which demonstrates the growth of table tennis in the country.

Naeem AlAwami the head of the national team and education committee in the Saudi Table Tennis Federation said: ”We are working hard to develop coaches and umpires through educational courses held annually. We have also benefitted from the ITTF Participation Program since 2021 through online services or onsite activities, such as the talent identification service this year.  We are eager for services that will help our coaches to improve their skills, on top of the ITTF-PTT Level 1 and ITTF Level 2 coaching courses, which teach them advanced techniques, improved teaching skills, and elements of mental and physical preparation. The fifth day of the ITTF-PTT Level 1 course was very interesting, as it included lessons on the classification system and tactics for Para players. This was very valuable for our coaches, as Para table tennis is new in our clubs, and we expect more players in the future.”

Mohammed Bo Radaha Alfath, club coach and participant in the ITTF-PTT Level 1 course added: ”The balance between the practical and theoretical side and giving a daily task helped us to understand the training methods and how to implement them with our players. The physical preparation session was interesting for all coaches, many thanks to ITTF, STTF and Olympic Solidarity for this opportunity and we hope to attend the other levels in the future.”

From 17-27 June the Pakistani Table Tennis Federation, in partnership with Pakistan Olympic Association, hosted an Olympic Solidarity Technical Course for coaches in the Nishtar Park Sports Complex in Lahore. he course, conducted by ITTF Senior Participation Officer Ramzi B.H Mabrouk, included an ITTF Level 2 coaching course followed by a 5-day training camp.

Participants of the Olympic Solidarity ITTF Level 2 course in Lahore (PAK)

During the course, 18 candidates, including 4 women, attentively followed the daily activities that were thoughtfully structured. The course allocated three hours to theory sessions and an additional three hours to practical training, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience for the participants. Coaches from various regions across Pakistan showcased their dedication and passion for table tennis by participating in the camp. Notably, 9 observer coaches from different regions attended with the aim of learning and gaining experience.

In this context, Mr. Rafique S. Raza, one of the attendees and coach of a local club in the capital city of Islamabad, said that “The course served as a power-packed resource for expanding the participants’ knowledge of table tennis. The combination of theoretical and practical sessions allowed them to apply the concepts they learned in real-time scenarios”.

The participants were exposed to a wide range of topics, including advanced techniques, fitness training, and the science of the human body. This enabled them to develop a deep understanding of the game. At the end of the course, 9 candidates successfully passed the evaluation, and one of them is eligible to continue to an ITTF Level 3 course once all remaining requirements are completed.

Following the course, a 5-day training camp was conducted with players from clubs and the regional team of Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan. Four girls and 14 boys participated in all training sessions. The players demonstrated talent and passion, eagerly embracing new techniques and drills, allowing the coaches to implement their newly acquired expertise.

Overall, the coaching courses supported by Olympic Solidarity have made a significant impact on the development of table tennis in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. These initiatives, combined with the dedication of the local federations, coaches, and players, continue to drive the growth of the sport and contribute to the success of athletes at both regional and international levels.

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