07 Feb 2024

From January 13 to 20, 2024, New Zealand played host to an ITTF Para Table Tennis Level 1 Classification Seminar in conjunction with a national Para table tennis training camp. This landmark event, organised by Table Tennis New Zealand, ITTF Development and ITTF Oceania aimed to enhance the knowledge and understanding of coaches, officials, and athletes in the classification process, as well as provide a nationwide training opportunity for Para table tennis players.

The ITTF Para Table Tennis Level 1 Classification Seminar which took place from 13-17 January was a significant milestone in the development and promotion of Para table tennis in Oceania. The IPC classification system plays a crucial role in ensuring fair competition for athletes with disabilities. Through this seminar, coaches, officials, and athletes had the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the classification process, rules, and principles involved, leading to a more inclusive and strategic approach to the sport.

“As a coach working with Para athletes in Waikato, the knowledge from this course will enable me to better understand and assist our athletes’ development and pathways. The course was valuable with live classifications, and observations of Para athletes during the camp” – Mark Page, NZ Technical Classifier

Participants in the seminar gained knowledge on a range of impairments and how they affect an athlete’s ability to play, as well as how to evaluate and categorise these impairments in compliance with ITTF and IPC guidelines. The information gained from this seminar will be extremely helpful in ensuring that Para table tennis players have fair and equal opportunities on a national and international level.

“As a Team Physiotherapist for the Pacific Games, I provided services for the NZ Para Table Tennis team and found the whole process of classification intriguing. Table Tennis NZ was looking for a person with a medical background to assist as they had no medical classifiers. The course was insightful, and I look forward to helping with classifications at national events.” – Adina, NZ Medical Classifier Candidate

The seminar, led by ITTF conductor Se To Phui Lin (MAS), drew 14 participants, 7 male and 7 female, from four MAs: New Caledonia, Tonga, Tahiti, and New Zealand. It covered both the medical and technical aspects of the classification process for athletes with disabilities. The TTNZ National Para Table Tennis Training Camp held in conjunction with the seminar gave the trainee classifiers real-world examples and experience. Participants in this course gained valuable knowledge that will help to accelerate the growth of PTT in Oceania.

“Tonga now has additional knowledge about classification and its process. This adds capacity to our federation and supports our delivery of the Smash Down Barriers Table Tennis Disability Program outcomes.” – Salote Fungavai, Tonga Table Tennis Federation CEO

Running parallel to the classification seminar, the national Para table tennis training camp from 16-20 January brought together talented athletes from across New Zealand. This training camp provided a supportive environment where athletes could train intensively and develop their skills.

20 athletes took part in the training camp along with 7 coaches, who had the opportunity to gain more knowledge and experience working with Para athletes. A national classification for 7 athletes took place prior and during the training camp which formed a significant stepping stone in the growth and integration of Para table tennis in New Zealand. The increased knowledge and expertise gained from the classification seminar will provide clarity and transparency to athletes and officials, ensuring fair competition.

Upskilling Para classifiers during ITTF courses like this is pivotal to building the capacity and capabilities to assist the ongoing growth and development of Para table tennis in Oceania. The last course of its kind in Oceania was more than 10 years ago, this course has been more than welcomed by all and was well overdue. New Zealand had no active classifiers to assist us in our Para pathway and we are now well equipped with skills and expertise with ten classifiers who can assist with the national classification process of NZ athletes. We acknowledge the contribution of ITTF Development and Paralympics New Zealand for their support in making this course possible” – Jessica MacAskill, TTNZ Community Manager

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