With a view towards the upcoming Micronesian Games to be held in the Marshall Islands in 2024, ITTF Participation Officer Trevor Hirth conducted table tennis clinics and a coach education seminar. Hirth’s visit included youth training sessions at Laura Elementary School and Umpire Training to elevate the professionalism of officials in preparation for next year’s Games.
The clinics, held inside classrooms, emphasized the accessibility of table tennis, and a coach education seminar focused on the “Bounce It Back” program, introducing the sport into schools. Hirth, known for his Paralympic achievements, plans to return next year, accompanied by technical officials and tournament organization experts.
In Tamuning, the Guam Table Tennis Federation underwent a Development Of Member Association (DMA) Activity from 15-24 October led by Trevor, aiming to kickstart development after years of disruption due to the pandemic and natural disasters.
The Guam Table Tennis Federation’s first day included a Sport 4 All activity at a rehabilitation center, attracting the attention of Special Olympics Guam. An agreement was made to collaborate closely, sharing resources to introduce table tennis into school programs. Daily training sessions at Dededo Sports Complex involved both experienced and social players, with a focus on skill development and community engagement.
A further two days of activity were dedicated to a school camp program, engaging children under 12 in fun table tennis activities. The event culminated in a tournament at Dededo Sports Complex, with President James Ji exploring the introduction of a new ranking system for all players through the Ratings Central website. The development plan, crafted during office sessions, aims to focus on participation and develop a youth team capable of competing in international tournaments in 2024 and beyond.
In Palau, the National Training Camp held from 4-13 October concentrated on preparing athletes for the upcoming Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands. The camp involved eight athletes (four male and four female) and two coaches, primarily focusing on mental preparation. The extreme heat prompted afternoon and late evening training sessions at the Palau National Olympic Committee National Gymnasium, led by Trevor Hirth.
Coaches worked closely with individual players, offering personalized skill sessions to address strengths and weaknesses. Upskilling the coaches themselves was also high on the agenda, including sessions on increased productivity during training and on how to run small local tournaments. The training concluded with a combined round-robin tournament, providing players an opportunity to assess their results and refine their training methods. Palau Table Tennis Association expressed the need for new equipment and venues, setting ambitious goals to host the 2025 Mini Pacific Games and actively grow the sport in schools and provincial towns.
Located in French Polynesia, the island of Raiatea played host to the Tahiti Hopes, where 17 participants engaged in an intensive eight-day program under the guidance of ITTF Expert Nicolas Guigon (FRA). The island holds cultural significance as the “mother” island of Polynesian Civilization, making it a unique backdrop for the training camp and tournament. Alizé Belrose, Executive Director of the Tahiti Table Tennis Federation (TTTF), highlighted Raiatea as a hotspot for competitive young players.
The training camp in the city of Uturoa focused on developing technical, tactical, mental, and physical aspects of the game. The daily thematic approach aimed to enhance the impact of each player on the ball, diverse ways of winning points, and holistic performance. Tahiti’s search for new talents extends to both players and coaches, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to younger players through partnerships with schools.
The ITTF Participation Program’s ongoing efforts in Oceania reflect a commitment to developing table tennis at various levels, building a strong base with grassroots initiatives that can serve as a building block for future capacity building and high performance activities. As the region continues to embrace the sport, these programs lay a strong foundation for the future of table tennis in Oceania.