This October, the Participation Program supported a number of activities. Action kicked off with an ITTF-PTT Level 1 coaching course held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, organized by the local Member Association in conjunction with the ITTF Participation Program.
It took place in the main hall of the Guatemala National Table Tennis Center, which provided excellent training conditions all around. Coaches worked for 5 hours a day, with the mornings dedicated to theoretical class-room based learning and afternoons spent in the hall working through the practical material.
26 people attended the course, 9 of them women. Most participants demonstrated their great knowledge and experience which facilitated the execution of a very successful course, and most hope to continue to the next ITTF level in order to help Guatemala remain one of the leading countries in Central America and improve even further.
“I am very happy with the group, who were very motivated and eager to learn throughout the course. I am sure they are going to be great coaches” Oscar Roitman, Course Conductor
“I can’t remember ever seeing such a large group of coaches working so hard and so well, side by side, in one course. This is going to help the country grow in table tennis” Miltón Catalán, National Coach of Guatemala
“I am very happy with the opportunity to participate in this course, from which I learned a lot and it motivates me to continue growing. The minimum quota for women has allowed many female coaches to be trained and encourages us to attract more women to the sport” R.F student of the Course.
Under the guidance of ITTF Participation Officer Carlos Esnard, Puerto Rico staged a National Team Training Camp for the countries developing and distinguished U15 & U19 players. The camp took place at the Olympic Hostel in Salinas from the 2-5 October. This camp was preceded by an Olympic Solidarity supported course focusing on coach education.
“The group of participating players are students from the “Eugenio Guerra Cruz” Olympic Hostel Sports School, where they are on scholarships, spending the entire week from Monday to Friday studying and training in two daily sessions from 7:00 to 10:30 am and from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. Their training efforts are complemented and supported by a team of doctors, psychologists, and dedicated coaches: Carlos Gracias, Francisco Gonzalez, and Victor Pimentel. They are responsible for working with the group of 8 girls and 13 boys from 10 to 19 years of age.”, said Carlos Esnard.
Most of the players in the U11 and U13 categories departed for Mosquera, Colombia to compete in the 2023 Pan American U11 & U13 Championships, while the older players took part in the Mayagüez National Open on 7-8 October. With the upcoming competitions in mind, the Training Camp was focused on tactical-technical development, and mental preparation sessions were held, including theoretical classes so that the players could learn to reason the game intelligently.
“The Training Camp helped me a lot to understand the techniques and actions I should do in my game, where I use an attacking rubber with pimples out on my forehand, it also helped me a lot to understand how to do better mental preparation, I took advantage of this opportunity a lot”. Gilianie Avila, player of the Puerto Rico Youth Team
Costa Rica was the next stop, with Oscar Roitman again in action as the expert, leading an ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course in San José City from 12-16 October. The venue for the course, the Sala Nacional de Tenis de Mesa, Parque de la Paz, is the only venue dedicated exclusively to table tennis.
“The venue was of great quality, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of the facility: the space, the floor, the lighting – everything was excellent. I am very happy with the group, a lot of very young coaches who were very motivated and eager to learn throughout the course. I am sure they are going to be great coaches. I would also like to highlight the great human quality of the technical team that organized the event.” – Oscar Roitman, ITTF Expert
The 35 coaches, 9 of them women, worked 5 hours per day divided into 2 sessions under excellent conditions the main hall of the National Table Tennis center in the National Table Tennis Center, exhibiting great knowledge and a desire to progress further. Following the course, some of the aspiring coaches could put their newly acquired skills into action at a three-day training camp, where 40 young players, half of them female, participated.
“It was a wonderful experience, because we had players from 11 years old to 19 years old, which enabled us to divide them into groups by age. We took the opportunity to have eight coaches implement their hours of practice directed by me.”, said Oscar.
“The proposal has stirred up the hornet’s nest and forced a rethinking of concepts that have been rigid for years. This can help change the mentality and improve the training system”. Mercedes Valenzuela, FECOTEME Vice president of Costa Rica.
“I didn’t know that there were so many methodological variations and that the game is a great tool for teaching. I loved it because it opened a new world to me that I didn’t know before.” Johan Otarola, participant
In Asia, an ITTF Level 2 Umpires course took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 6-9 October, followed by a Basic Referee Course from 10-12 October. For the first activity, 24 umpires got together at the ADD Ustel Tennis Ortalgy sports center to improve their knowledge, whereas for the BRC, 12 referees were eager to get to the next level.
Kazakhstan hosted its first major international tournament with the World Tour Grand Finals in 2017. Since then, international events such as the 2021 ITTF Kazakhstan International Open and the WTT Contender Almaty in 2022 and 2023 demonstrated the commitment of the Kazakhstan Table Tennis Federation with one caveat: the association is lacking match officials, which was one of the main motivations in holding this course.
The National Umpires Course consisted of 8-hour days, during which the umpires refreshed the laws of table tennis and delved deeper into details of match officiating.
“We focused on the Table, Net, Ball, Racket, Definitions, Service, Practical, Scoring, Toss, Obstruction, Let, Point, Order of Play, Expedite system, Behaviour, PARA TT Rules, and the duties of umpires/assistant umpires/referees. Additionally during the presentations, we watched many videos and photos, discussed different situations and took time for individual questions. The participants were very interested in the lessons and practice. They were active for the discussions, were not shy about asking questions, and I tried to explain all details, when I saw that some information wasn’t clear to them.” – Elena Semenova, ITTF Expert
On the fourth day, the umpires participated in the Kazakhstan Top 16 tournament, implementing what they had learned in the course. Continuous feedback by the Expert meant umpires were able to adjust and improve their actions throughout the tournament. The success of the course was also reflected in the coaches’ feedback, who reflected on the professionalism and confidence of the umpires.
“The seminar was very instructive. It started with the rules of table tennis, where we must to refer to the rules and regulations when making any decisions during the match, and continued with the analysis of various cases, in which there were very subtle points, everything was discussed in detail. We gained a lot of experience about umpiring. This seminar is really another level.” – Gulnaz Zhalaldin, participant
“I really liked the seminar and I liked the manner in which Elena Semenova conducted the workshop: simply and intelligibly.” – Nariman Adylkanov, participant
“The lecturer was great. She is lucid and kind person with a sense of humour. I got acquainted with the new umpires and those I had worked with before. A very combat-ready team has been assembled. A fusion of youth and experience. Thanks a lot.” – Saule Madachinova, participant
The following Basic Referee course was designed for two days with again 8 hours of classroom based learning and scenarios each day and an additional practical day.
“It was a really great idea to have two courses in a row. At the first one (for National Umpires) the students refreshed the Laws of table tennis and at the second course it was easy to understand the difference between referee and umpire, and their differing responsibility at an event”, said Elena.
Working in small groups of 4 people they used the scenario-based role play in order to understand if the referee can change an umpire’s decision or if a player should be disqualified. As with the umpires, the referees got the opportunity to practice their learnings at the U16 Top 16 event on the third day of the course.
In the Maldives, ITTF Participation Manager Mohammad Atoumd conducted a DMA Activity from 11-20 October, held in Male, Hulhumale and Fuvahmulah Island. For the first five days, a coaching course took place in the Hulhumale Table Tennis Training Center with 10 participants. The two daily sessions were held from 15:00-18:00 and 19:00-22:00.
The Male Table Tennis Training Center was the venue for the next three days with a training camp for the national team players. 9 women and 7 men participated, and 5 coaches worked together to raise the quality of the training.
“We designed the training based on the first meeting with the coaches where the objectives were to improve the first 4 balls and to improve the tactical elements”, Mohammad said.
On the morning of the 18 October, a school program took place with the participants from the previously held coaching course and the national coaches. The coaches visited a school as a pilot project to promote and teach the students basic table tennis skills. The next step will be to support the school in conducting 2-3 sessions per week in cooperation with the help of the physical education teachers, who will be a vital element in future talent identification from a school environment. 15 girls and 22 boys took part in the activity and showed their interest and motivation to learn more about table tennis.
On 19 and 20 October, Fuvahmulah Island, a one-hour flight from Male Island, hosted a basic umpire and basic coaching seminar for 14 participants, 10 of them female, in the association’s second official training center, Fuvahmulah Training Center. This was followed by practical session for 5 female and 5 male players, with the presence of the coaches and umpires.
Ibrahim Shiuree, Vice President of MTTA said: ”The ITTF-PTT Level 1 coaching course conducted in Male’ proved to be highly productive and informative, offering emerging coaches valuable insights into the principles of contemporary coaching, Additionally, it introduced a new aspect by including para table tennis, which can be beneficial for children requiring special attention. Furthermore, the table tennis workshop held in Fuvahmulah not only contributed to the promotion of table tennis on the island but also enabled us to identify former recreational players who were willing to provide assistance. Moreover, Atoum organized a three-day training camp for the YDP, the youth team, and national players. This camp proved highly advantageous for both TTAM and the players as it involved direct, on-site feedback, offering valuable insights on how to enhance the sport and elevate it to the next level”.