This year, twenty-four mentees from four continents and twenty MAs participated in this initiative. Thirteen mentees, including umpires and referees, were mentored in the match officials area, while eleven were mentored in the coaches area for able-bodied and Para table tennis.
As mentors for the program, thirteen experts from every continent covered four languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, and French. Leading top coaches Eva Jeler (AUS) and Massimo Costantini (ITA), as well as top international match officials Werner Thury (AUT) and Michael Zwipp (GER), joined the mentorship to advise and assist the mentees. Women made up 40% of the project’s mentor team. The mentors oversaw the four-month mentoring process in collaboration with their mentees; by their respective fields of expertise, each mentor was assigned two mentees. The mentees participated in a minimum of eight virtual sessions led by their mentors, supplemented by monthly assignments. Upon completion of the project, each mentee presented a case study on a selected subject that had been discussed with their mentor throughout the project. Ultimately, the mentees were evaluated by the mentors to identify their areas of understanding and shortages, as well as to discuss the most suitable courses of action moving forward.
One of the ITTF Mentorship’s goals is to provide Member Associations with the assistance and support they need to develop match officials, particularly when preparing for major events. With the 13th African Games in Ghana, the 2025 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Doha, Qatar, and the 2024 Singapore Grand Smash on the horizon, four match officials from Ghana, Qatar, and Singapore have joined the program as mentees. Cynthia Kwabi of Ghana was mentored by Ronald Mugwanya of Uganda. Ronald is Africa’s second Gold badge umpire, and he worked with Cynthia to improve her match officiating skills and share his experience to advance her career. After his role as a deputy referee in the ITTF Western Africa Qualifications, David Senyo from Ghana joined the ITTF Mentorship to advance his Refereeing career, and he was mentored by Silvia Garro from Argentina. During the project, Jasper Tan from Singapore had the opportunity to learn from his mentor Michael Zwipp’s experience. In the same group, Kameron Chan, a Referee from Australia was also mentored by Michael.
Hassan Al-Amri of Qatar, a Referee mentee, was recently appointed as the URC Deputy Chair for Umpires. Hassan was mentored by URC Chair Werner Thury. Hassan decided to progress his Refereeing career after officiating in one of the biggest events of the year, the ITTF World Table Tennis Championship Finals Durban, and after a very productive mentoring experience, he is planning to participate in the upcoming IR School in Hong Kong, which is scheduled to be held in December 2023. Hassan was also named as the Eastern Africa course conductor for the 2023 ITTF International Umpire Examination Preparatory Course, which was organized by ITTF Development. In the same group, Werner mentored Akrem Benattia, the first African Gold Badge Umpire and recent International Referee at various WTT events.
During this year’s International Referee Conferences in Beijing and Senec, Hassan and Akrem had the opportunity to continue their mentorship on-site with their mentor.
Werner Thury, ITTF URC Chair:
“In the Referee Mentorship program, I had the opportunity to work with two experienced match officials. Hassan Al-Amri and Akram Ben Attia have umpired at top events over the last few years and their aim now is to concentrate on refereeing. Due to their excellent knowledge, the mentorship program started from a very high level. The International Referee Conferences in Beijing and Senec provided an excellent opportunity to continue the mentorship on-site. Even if the mentorship will officially finish at the end of December, we will of course continue to cooperate through 2024, and it has already been agreed that Akram Ben Attia will work together with me at the WTT Youth Contender Linz in the referee team, where the results of our online sessions will be implemented at a real table tennis event. I am sure that we will soon see Hassan and Akram refereeing at major table tennis events”.
“As an emerging table tennis referee who has a shallow experience in the field, this mentorship has allowed me to learn from one of the best referees worldwide. The knowledge gained through the online sessions attended, the multiple cases discussed, and the number of assignments completed will equip me to be a better referee. I do extend my thanks and appreciation to both ITTF Development and URC for this program. I am looking forward to contributing to upscale the level of refereeing in my region and internationally. Finally, a big thanks to Werner Thury for being my mentor and for his patient guidance. I hope this project will continue to grow in the future for the benefit of our sport”.
Omoniyi Adedotun from Nigeria, the national coach for the rising Nigerian star Taiwo Mati, was mentored by ITTF Elite Coach Massimo Costantini. After a historic run, where Adedotun guided Mati to the R32 of the World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Durban and following his participation as the ITTF head coach for the 2023 ITTF Southern Africa Training Camp in Botswana from 3-7 July, he joined the ITTF Mentorship to enhance and develop his coaching career and learn from Massimo’s experience. Priyanka Pareek from Canada was also in the same group and was mentored by Massimo.
Omoniyi Adedotun (NGR): Mentee
“The ITTF Mentorship, which focused on the topic “Training Organization Planning” is superb, educative and encompassed the intrinsic and extrinsic values of learning through a good mentor like Massimo Costantini.”
The 2023 ITTF Mentorship is an inclusive project that promotes cross-cultural exchange of experience. In the table tennis coaching area, Armando Juárez from Guatemala and Shamin Miradidasht from Iran were mentored by Alejandra Gabaglio from Argentina. They had the opportunity to learn from their mentor’s extensive PTT experience as well as exchange with and learn from one another. Armando was able to continue his mentorship experience on-site by meeting with Alejandra at two events: the Tango Cup in October and the Parapan American Games in November. The two meetings resulted in many fruitful discussions and learnings.
Alejandra Gabaglio (ARG): ITTF Mentor
“This year, it has been very enriching to be able to share the mentoring program with coaches from places as far away as Shamin Moradidasht from Iran and Armando Juárez from Guatemala, interweaving different cultures, learning about different ways of approaching table tennis, the reality of each country, and to know how each coach is able to develop table tennis for people with disabilities. With Armando in particular we had the opportunity to share two competitions, the Tango Cup in October of this year and the Parapan American Games in November, which allowed us to get to know each other better and be able to discuss the best development options for PTT in Guatemala and its players.”
Armando Juárez (GUA), Mentee
“For me it has been very beneficial since I have learned new things about PTT which helped me work better with my Para athletes, and my mentor has been very open in teaching the most important topics of PTT. It is good that everyone can continue receiving this type of courses more often because it helps you to be updated as a coach. I’d like to also mention that my mentor is very good and knows a lot, and I recommend to continue teaching these topics relating to PTT. In my case, I have learned new things and I continue to learn.”
Supporting the cross-cultural learning in the project, Ifeoma Isaac from Nigeria and Yasiris Ortiz from the Dominican Republic were mentored by Ryan Jenkins from England. As part of the project, each mentee needed to submit a case study about a learning topic discussed with their respective mentor. Ifeoma’s study was about the importance of the role of the coach in shaping the athlete mindset, approach, and attitude towards competition. With Ryan’s help, Ifeoma was able to discuss such important topics in detail. Meanwhile, Yasiriz recently participated in the ITTF Level 3 Coaching Education in Paraguay to progress her coaching education. The Mentorship helped her to take the first step in transitioning from an athlete to an advanced coach.
Ryan Jenkins (ENG): ITTF Mentor
“The 2023 ITTF Mentorship has been extremely rewarding once again. The interaction between myself and the 2 mentees has been a great way to connect and share experiences. The idea of helping and supporting coaches from around the world has allowed me to pass on advice to others and see coaching from many different perspectives. It’s been fascinating.”
Yasiris Ortiz (DOM): Mentee
“It has been an amazing experience to expand my knowledge through an ITTF mentor. In this program, I have gained deep insights into table tennis through my research and by sharing ideas, resources, and engaging in discussions. I appreciate the importance of maintaining regular contact with my mentor and his other mentee, as it kept us both focused and motivated to complete our assignments and the entire program.”
Eduardo Vargas, a mentee from Bolivia who had also participated in the ITTF Level 3 Coaching Course in Paraguay, was supported by his Mentor Pablo Koatz from Argentina. Eduardo worked with his mentor in preparing the U11 and U13 athletes for the upcoming South American Championships, planned to take place in 2024. Byron Martinez from Ecuador was the second mentee for Pablo, and they collaborated to enhance the monitoring process and coordination of the national training camps in Ecuador. They also focused on preparation for the Santiago Chile 2023 Pan-American games. Additionally, Byron collaborated and worked at ITTF events during the training camp directed by Francisco Seijas and also completed the ITTF Level 2 Coaching Course that was held in Cuenca.
Hisham Ismail from Egypt, coach for Egypt’s promising table tennis star Hana Goda was the mentor for Thobo Patrick from Botswana and Malek El Tawil from Lebanon. They discussed important topics such as selection of talented players, training volume and pathway from hopes to seniors, how to improve players through control, footwork, improve the skills, serving, receiving, game situation, physical training, and the mental preparation of players before major events.
Hisham Ismail (EGY), Mentor
“Thanks to the International Table Tennis Federation for giving me the chance to be a part of the 2023 Mentorship program and thanks to the talent coaches for their participation, commitment and for giving all of their efforts during the Mentorship program.”
In Oceania, Jaafar Mousa, the table tennis development officer at Table Tennis Canterbury in New Zealand and a national coach in several hopes activities in Lebanon and New Zealand, was mentored by Eva Jeler, who supported in advancing his coaching skills and career in New Zealand. Jaafar submitted a case study that he discussed with his mentor, researching consistency in table tennis.
Jaafar Mouse (NZL)
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to partake in the mentorship course. The structure of the course is amazing and gives us the opportunity to learn about subjects that interest us. I feel as though this has been a highlight of my coaching career so far and feel as though I have grown so much as a coach since beginning it. I really enjoyed the one-on-one experience with such a knowledgeable mentor, Eva Jeler. Eva was available to support me whenever I needed. “
In December, the 2023 ITTF Mentorship Project was concluded, and all of the candidates who were successful will be awarded a certificate of participation in the project. Keep an eye out for the next iteration of the ITTF Mentorship, which is scheduled to take place in 2024.