27 Nov 2023

Thailand was the center of a whirlwind of activity from 5-10 November, playing host to the South East Asia Regional Hopes as well as a Regional Initiative, which consisted of a National Umpire Level 2 and Basic Referee Course. It was a demonstration of how different activities organised under the auspices of ITTF Development can harmonise and enhance each other, creating the best possible experience for the participants and the host Member Association. Thailand boasts a well-developed table tennis scene, known for producing top players and developing talents, with Kulapassr Vijitviriyagul winning the 2022 ITTF World Hopes Challenge’s girls event in January this year.

Hoping to follow in her footsteps, this year’s South East Asia Hopes gathered at the TTAT Academy in Bangkok for a week of training and competition. 11 girls, 12 boys and 9 coaches from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, and the Philippines worked and trained together for four days in twice daily training sessions to reach a common goal: qualification to the Asia Hopes Week & Challenge next year, the next step on their Hopes journey. On the last two days, the Hopes battled each other in the Challenge tournament, which was deemed an all-round success. The tournament was conducted by umpires and referees from the Level 2 National Umpires and Basic Referee Course, running at the same time with theoretical sessions taking place at the nearby taking place at the nearby Thunburi University and practical sessions supporting the Hopes Week.

“All talents worked hard throughout the week, demonstrating great effort and commitment to improvement. The tournament was very beneficiary to the participants, as it prepares them for future competitions”, said Beh Lee Fong (MAS), the expert on duty.

Coach Siliyanh Manichanh from Laos commended the camp, stating: “This camp was very good, facilitating the exchange of training practices for young athletes.” Coach Ech Eav Ngo from Cambodia also expressed his appreciation: “The training program was very good; my player learned a lot from it. Thank you so much for your kind demonstration.” Coach Seth Morante Mercado from the Philippines praised the professionalism of the program, highlighting the clear instructions, effective management, and fruitful outcomes. He expressed a desire for future participation, saying: “Thank you from Team Philippines, and I wish that we will participate again in these fruitful and friendly events.”

Besides the champions of the Challenge tournament, Jitnada Unjit (THA) for the girls and Zane Ong (SGP) for the boys, six additional players gained their spot at next year’s Asia Hopes Week & Challenge. These are Dania Mohd (MAS), Choo Kee Ying (MAS) and Waythaga Chaitat (THA) (girls) and Faiz Danial Hizir (MAS), Koh Wei Yeow (MAS) and Phoommiphat Noita (THA) (boys).

At Thunburi University, the match officials spend their mornings working on the theoretical part of their Level 2 course, then joining the Hopes for their practical sessions at the TTAT Table Tennis Academy. Hosting the course also provided an opportunity for forging a closer cooperation between the TTAT and Thunburi University, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two entities for closer cooperation.


The 12 participants from four MAs (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia) were a mix of Basic or National Umpires aiming to gain experience for the International Umpire Examination.

Two of the candidates were appointed as Referees for the Hopes Challenge tournament and were tasked with organising a two-day tournament with full ranking for all players. The rest of the participants contributed with ideas for the competition system. They also worked as a team to set up the competition hall and plan the schedules for the tournament.

“The National Umpire candidates had no issues with the practical element of the course, as demonstrated by their good performance during the Hopes Challenge”, said the expert on duty, Ronald Wee (SGP). “It was a satisfying course for both the participants and myself. Integrating the course with the South East Asia Hopes Week & Challenge gave the participants the opportunity to apply the skills they learned and along the way improved their bonding and friendship. It also demonstrated the importance of working as a team to both Referees and Umpires, to successfully organise the tournament. The experiences they gained from this course will help them immensely in their future endeavors.”

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