04 Dec 2023

In the enchanting city of Jezzine, Lebanon, the 2023 Western Asia Hopes Week & Challenge unfolded at Centro Julian Y Linda Slim from 12-17 October. Just a few days later in the heart of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan hosted the 2023 Central Asia Hopes Week & Challenge in the capital city, Tashkent, showcasing Asia’s table tennis talents across both regions.

The Lebanese Table Tennis Federation has been actively fostering the growth of table tennis in the country, and the event in Jezzine highlighted their commitment to developing future table tennis stars within Lebanon and the wider region. The Hopes Week, conducted by ITTF Expert Pacinthe Osman (EGY), featured a 5-day training camp with two sessions per day, followed by a thrilling challenge on the sixth day. The 10 participants, 5 boys and 5 girls, represented Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

Lebanon has recently made notable progress in various sports, with table tennis gaining popularity as a means to enhance physical well-being and foster social connections. Local coaches, striving towards Level 2 certifications, actively participated in training and guiding young athletes, contributing to the overall improvement of coaching standards in the nation. The venue for the Hopes Week also hosted the WTT Contender Jezzine the week after concluding the camp, setting the stage for high-level competition with a well-organized training camp with sufficient equipment, including up to 100 balls on each table.

Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, the Table Tennis Federation, under the enthusiastic leadership of Mr. Alisher Kerimov, is on a mission to create a silk road of table tennis. The Central Asia Hopes Week & Challenge in Tashkent unfolded against the backdrop of a metropolis adorned with high rises and historical monuments, emphasizing the region’s commitment to nurturing young table tennis talents.

Hosted at the Central Asian University, the Hopes Week welcomed 25 players and 15 coaches from Central Asia, creating a diverse training environment. The picturesque university campus provided a comfortable stay, offering a 12-table air-conditioned hall and access to various recreational facilities such as a swimming pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, and swings.

Mamata Prabhu (IND), a beneficiary of the “My Gender. My Strength.” project, served as the ITTF expert for the camp. The week-long event included morning warm-up sessions and two playing sessions each day, offering valuable training experience to players from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, and Uzbekistan.

Mamata was not the only MGMS beneficiary involved in the Regional Hopes. As in many regions across other continents, the West Asia Hopes offered Lebanon’s own Sevan Tchekmeyan an opportunity to progress her transition from player to coach by attending the Hopes Week and learning from the expert on duty, Pacinthe Osman. The connection between Women’s Development and the Hopes has been especially evident in Asia, where all three experts conducting the respective Regional Hopes were women.


The challenges concluded in both regions with winners securing a direct qualification for the Continental Hopes Week and Challenge in 2024. The West Asia challenge saw Andya Karzan M Latif from Iraq and Bana Arnouk from Syria emerge victorious, while the Central Asia challenge had Pakzad Rahimyan and Adrina Khayyam from Iran claim the top spots.

As these young talents continue to shine, both Lebanon and Uzbekistan are actively contributing to the global table tennis community. Their commitment to developing the sport, even in challenging circumstances, echoes the spirit of the Silk Road, connecting diverse cultures through the universal language of table tennis. The journey of self-discovery, skill refinement, and cultural exchange during the Regional Hopes Week & Challenge events showcases the transformative power of sports on a global scale.

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