12 Oct 2023

Laos, North Macedonia, and Puerto Rico have been the recent beneficiaries of Olympic Solidarity supported ITTF coaching courses, organized by ITTF Development. Coaches had the opportunity to work on their skills, which they could immediately put into practice during the training camps that followed the theoretical part of the 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, so that NOCs may fulfill their responsibilities to the Olympic Movement while adhering to the IOC’s strategy.

From 23-31 July, 25 coaches attended the OS ITTF-PTT Level 1 coaching course at the ITECC Mall in the Laotian capital Vientiane, which included a four-day training camp with 25 players. Amongst the 19 men and 6 women were 10 club coaches, 8 teachers, and 7 current players hailing from all provinces of the country.

“All participants were highly motivated to learn, which lead to great exchanges and the sharing of experiences as coaches, which made the 10 theoretical and 8 training camp sessions pass very quickly”, said ITTF Expert Korakij Sermkijseree (THA).

Laos has a long-term national development program for coaches, players, and hosting international events, such as last year’s Asia Youth Championships and this year’s WTT Youth Contender event that just concluded last week. Former national players are active in running clubs in the capital and across schools in the provinces, and table tennis is one of the sports represented in the National Games, held every four years.

Educational session

The course participants were committed to passing on their newly acquired knowledge and skills to young players and further promoting table tennis in their country, with some of the aspiring coaches aiming to prepare their players to represent their province in the National Games in 2025. Those participants who were schoolteachers were eager to discuss integrating table tennis into their own school.

“After these days spent with the coaches, players, and the team of the Lao Table Tennis Federation, I believe that the table tennis standard in the country is clearly rising and further growth is imminent”, said Korakij.

“The Lao Table Tennis Federation organized an excellent course and is evidently committed to promote and improve coach education as well as player development. I am ready to support all activity of the federation. The National Olympic Committee of Laos invites all people of the country to join and play table tennis. To quote the ITTF: Table Tennis. For All. For Life.”, said  Somphou Phongsa, Vice President of Laos NOC.

At the opening of the course, Mr. Sengphone PHONAMATH, Laos NOC Secretary General and Vice President, Table Tennis encouraged participants and players to take away any skills they would acquire during the 9 days of the course to the various schools in the country.

In North Macedonia, Olympic Solidarity supported an ITTF Level 2 coaching course and training camp held in Berovo, a city two hours from Skopje, at the local Berovo Table Tennis Club, the most active club in the country. During the first 6 days, the daily sessions were split in two 3-hour blocks during which the 9 attending coaches participated in theoretical sessions and enhanced their practical skills in the hall.

Practical session at the OS-ITTF Level 2 Coaching Course in North Macedonia

“From the first session, the coaches were motivated to learn and maintained positive interaction amongst themselves and with myself. Moreover, the course showed to be to be an immersive experience, as all participants were staying at the same hotel and continued debating after hours”, said Mohammad Atoum, ITTF Participation Manager and course conductor. “The participants were very knowledgeable in the techical and tactical elements with good teaching skills, as some are working as physical education teachers and are actively working with youth players. The main motivation for them to attend this course was their desire to increase their skills on how they can improve their players.”

Nada Banjac, national youth female coach in Serbia, traveled to attend the course : ”From the first moment of the course, we established a pleasant working atmosphere with clearly defined goals and structure. Well organized, clear instructions, presented both the theoretical and practical part of the training in an interesting and engaging way. It was simply amazing. We could talk for a long time about the extraordinarily realized ITTF Level 2 Coaching Course in North Macedonia, but we don’t have time anymore because all of us coaches who attended this course are running to our halls in order to transfer the acquired knowledge from this course to our players as soon as possible,I want to thank the Table Tennis Association of North Macedonia, headed by President Goran Tilovski, Secretary Zlatko Rikalovski, host representative Jovan Kovačovski, my fellow coaches for their good cooperation, as well as everyone else who contributed to such a high-quality education for coaches, without which there is no progress in the players’ game”.

After the coaching course, the next four days were dedicated to a training camp for the best two youth players within each category, with 9 girls and 7 boys participating. With the aim of improving the players’ technical skills in anticipation of the WTT Youth Star Contender, 4 local coaches worked alongside ITTF Participation Manager Mohammad Atoum and 4 local coaches in providing two sessions daily in a pleasant training environment.

Training camp participants in North Macedonia

Izabella Jovan Kovacovski, one of the players in the training camp said: ”We found this training camp very useful for us as different methods of training were used, everyone was focused, starting from warm up which was funny and slightly different. We all now know our weaknesses and strengths and what we should do in the future. This is the most important part for me as unfortunately the training camp was only for 4 days. I believe we need more training camps like this one and they should run for longer. Finally thanks everyone who made it happen”.

Table tennis in North Macedonia has grown significantly in recent years with participation in regional and continental events rising and hosting commitments for Regional Youth events, the WTT Youth Star Contender, and the 2024 European U21 Championships, which mark the first European Championships to be held by the North Macedonia Table Tennis Association. Organizing these events provides local players, coaches and match officials with opportunities to participate in significant numbers to further gain experience and develop their skills to the next level.

 “Many players have the potential to achieve good results in the near future and the North Macedonia table tennis association is working hand in hand with the coaches and the clubs in order to achieve this target,” Mohammad concluded.

From 27 September to 1 October, the Olympic Hostel in the city of Salinas, Puerto Rico, hosted the Olympic Solidarity ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course. This course was supported by the Olympic Solidarity Program, the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico, and executed by the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation in coordination with the ITTF Development Program.

Practical session at the OS-ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course in Puerto Rico

The expert on duty was the ITTF Participation Officer Carlos Esnard, who was extremely satisfied with the participation and especially with the level of the participating coaches, 95% of which were working directly in their clubs with players from beginner to talent development. In addition, the vast majority of the aspiring coaches were national players with very good results.

Theory work in Puerto Rico

Coaches from across Puerto Rico participated in the course along with Eva Brito, national team player of the Dominican Republic.  Mr. Ivan Santos, president of FPRTM was also present throughout the course.

“This course has opened my eyes a lot on how to train young players. I am delighted with everything I have learned, and I congratulate the expert because he has been able to teach with methodology and lead us to understand the basic principles of table tennis training, I am eager to go to my club to start applying everything I learned with my children.” Jorge Camacho, Professor, Coach, and owner of Club Humacao.

“I am very happy with the positive response from the participants, who were 100% very satisfied with what they learned, and I am convinced that this course will improve the training work of our players much more. I especially want to congratulate ITTF and thank OS and COPUR for giving us the possibility of taking this course and I hope that next year we can do an ITTF Level 2.” Iván Santos, President of FPRTM.

The collaborative efforts of ITTF Development, Olympic Solidarity and Member Associations in raising the level of coaches and players are not only improving the standard of table tennis in these diverse regions but also fostering a deep sense of enthusiasm and commitment.

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