With the launch of the 2021 ITTF Participation Program, the MA under the leadership of Mr. Percy Zulu, MA President, took full interest in the program and showed initiative by activating their participation immediately. They consumed 16 hours worth of Online Services, amongst them ITTF MA Categorization, Creating National Team Plans, and Remote Training Camp. In their choice of Services, they leaned heavily toward players’ and coaches’ development.
The small number of accredited coaches was highlighted as a concern by Mr. Percy Zulu, and he indicated that:
“We have a plan to establish table tennis as a national sport in the country, but our limitations come from limited to no knowledge by those coaches who are interested in the sport. We hope the current course will light a spark and our development will reach all corners of the country.”
During the 2022 ITTF Participation Program, the MA was offered an MA Activity where they opted for Coaches Education in the form of an ITTF-PTT Level 1 course, attended by thirteen participants. This served as the starting point for building a new family of coaches to resume the development of table tennis in the country once again.
Also in 2022, the MA successfully applied to be part of the “My Gender. My Strength.” Project. As such, they implemented a national project focused on increasing female participation and building capacities in female leadership within their association.
In 2023, the MA continued its quest to strengthen the coaching structure by linking the available resources and programs through the relationships they have established with the ITTF and their NOC. They successfully applied for an Olympic Solidarity technical course for coaches and, joining forces with the ITTF Participation Officer, Kealeboga Keitseng, they set their plan in motion to implement the coaching program as part of this year’s Participation Program, ensuring the right and enthusiastic coaches benefit from the OS course at the end of the year.
Firstly, a cohort of 30 coaches were selected from the MA for training throughout the year using the two programs. Within the Participation Program, they selected the Coach-the-Coach online services where they consumed 10 hours of interaction with an ITTF expert guiding and introducing table tennis to the coaches via an online platform.
The second part the coaches were involved in was the National Activity, an inclusive coaches’ seminar, which included practical activities to share, discuss and train the basics of table tennis over 5 days. The National Activity was conducted by two local coaches accredited with ITTF-PTT L1. The program included coaching sessions where beginner players were invited to some sessions for the coaches to get a feel of teaching players new skills and techniques.
The third and final program for the year by the MA will be an Olympic Solidarity Technical Course for coaches, where the MA has chosen to host an ITTF-PTT Level 1 course and a Training Camp for U15 players. The course will take place from 11-15 December and will be followed by the U15 Training Camp from 16-20 December under the guidance of Kealeboga Keitseng.
Throughout the year, the MA has been interacting and communicating its intention to spread the sport of table tennis in the country. During one of their interviews with the national television station, the Secretary General of the Association, Ms. Gcebile Dlamini indicated that;
“We are excited to have managed to host a succession of activities throughout the year. Through the ITTF and IOC (International Olympic Committee) we have been able to carefully design and implement a yearlong program which we believe is going to have a country wide impact at the right time. Our members were kept busy with a variety of development activities and the learning process has been a revelation for them. Our national mother body, Eswatini Sport Council, has been incredibly supportive as well in our initiatives and have promised to support the Association to ensure it achieves its objectives.”
The MA has a positive outlook on their development, and from the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the Executive Committee, and the commitment of the coaches and players, the future looks bright for the budding MA.