13 Jun 2024

Sport has always been a powerful platform for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls. Recognizing this potential, ITTF Development has launched an impactful project focused on women’s development in table tennis called “My Gender. My Strength.” back in 2019. Since its inception and including this year’s selection, 57 Member Associations have benefitted from the Project and contributed to women’s table tennis development worldwide.  The 2024 edition of this project aims to enhance and advance women’s participation in the sport by supporting ambitious female coaches in their professional growth and contribution to table tennis development within their Member Associations. 

After a fantastic experience with the 2023 MGMS edition, more on which is available here, we are kicking off the 2024 edition, which for the first time ever will span all five continents, including Europe. Fifty Member Associations applied, which makes it the highest engagement of MAs in the Project since its inception. Interest has grown steadily year on year, with the highest engagement coming from MAs in the Americas. Twenty female coaches have been selected as beneficiaries this year: 5 from Africa, 5 from the Americas, 5 from Asia, 2 from Europe and 3 from Oceania.  

 “It is wonderful to see the growing interest in the “My Gender. My Strength.” Project. Launched in 2019 as a pilot in Asia and Latin America, the project has now expanded globally, with 50 Member Associations applying, showcasing Table Tennis Family commitment to advance women in our sport. Investing in female coaches aims not only to provide them with essential coaching knowledge and experience but also to enhance their leadership and managerial skills. This initiative will help them excel in their careers and address the clear shortage of female coaches, especially at the elite level, ultimately benefiting the development of elite athletes. So, the more we’re thrilled to see a participant’s team from last year’s cohort qualifying at the Olympic Games Paris 2024. With every edition, we enhance the Project to provide the most beneficial experience for participants. The three-phase concept helps coaches develop professionally, build networks, and benefit their Member Associations. Many inspiring stories have emerged till now, and we look forward to many more.” Katarzyna Kubas, Head of Development Projects

It’s definitely a good platform to learn and grow. I’m still playing as an athlete for South Africa and this coaching direction I’m heading is only going to be positive and beneficial.  I’m looking forward to the practical aspect and getting as many female athletes involved!” – Danisha Patel, beneficiary from South Africa.  

The candidates are from various backgrounds and have had diverse experiences, such as Olympians, coaches-owners of table tennis clubs, and national team coaches amongst others. All candidates are either experienced coaches or elite athletes aspiring to be coaches. A prerequisite of selection was relevant coaching experience and an official national coaching qualification or IF coaching certification with a minimum of two years of practical experience at regional, continental, or international level. Each candidate had to provide an endorsement from their Member Association and a motivational letter.  

“First and foremost, my deepest and sincere gratitude to the International Table Tennis Federation and All Nepal Table Tennis Association for selecting me as a beneficiary of the prestigious 2024 ITTF “My Gender, My Strength” project. Empowering women to be more active and to be leaders through table tennis has become one of my missions and I am currently working on that and now recognition from ITTF and this project adds fuel to the fire I have inside me. I will leave no stone unturned to achieve my mission and goals which are perfectly aligned with each other. Apart from that, I believe that the guidance and the support I am going to have from the top-level experts of the world will sharpen my knowledge and skills which will lead me to do my best and be competent in the area of coaching and will able to cater the top elite players of the world.”  – Nabita Shreshta, beneficiary from Nepal  

The “My Gender. My Strength.” project has several clear objectives. It encourages Member Associations to identify female coaches who have the potential and desire to advance their roles and contribute significantly to the development of table tennis. Selected female coaches will gain theoretical coaching knowledge, practical coaching experience, and enhanced management and leadership skills. The project also aims to create networks among selected beneficiaries and foster local networks within their Member Associations. Overall, the initiative strives to leave a lasting positive impact on women in table tennis both within their Member Associations and beyond. 

New Zealand is pleased to be part of the ITTF’s ‘My Gender. My Strength.’ Project, as it aligns with our strategic objectives in empowering and advancing the skill level of our female coaches. The online sessions and onsite development activity will enable our coach to have global networking opportunities and learnings. The project is also beneficial as it will culminate in a legacy as our selected coach will share and disseminate her learnings with other female coaches in New Zealand’s when she leads a national coaching seminar.” – Table Tennis New Zealand 

The project will be carried out in three distinct stages. In the first stage, candidates will have the opportunity to learn from the experienced top-level coaching expert Eva Jeler through a month of group online sessions, starting in mid-June. The second stage involves enhancing practical coaching experience through participation in activities such as the Hopes Program or Youth Training Camps on the Continental level. These experiences will be funded by the “My Gender. My Strength.” project, covering airfare and hospitality. In the third stage, under the support of their Member Association, candidates will organize a minimum two-day National Coaching Seminar for other female coaches within their association. 

“As a Federation, we are continuously seeking to participate in development programs and projects that involve our athletes, coaches, match officials and leaders. Therefore, having an opportunity to be part of a specific project aimed at training female coaches is really encouraging. Thus, for FETM it is a significant commitment to the project that encompasses all aspects of learning and promises to be much more than an isolated activity; it’s a mechanism that contributes to the growth of women in sport. We are convinced that Tania, through this project, will provide invaluable benefits to the Federation and its all stakeholders.” – Ecuador Table Tennis Federation. 

The ITTF “My Gender. My Strength.” project by ITTF Development is a significant step towards promoting gender equality and empowering women in table tennis. By supporting female coaches in their professional journey, the project not only aims to enhance their skills but also to create a lasting positive impact on the sport, fostering a new generation of women leaders in table tennis. 

Natalia Grigelova (SVK)

“Natalia was chosen for her ambition and passion for table tennis. She is dedicated to continuous learning and staying updated with the latest developments to advance the sport, not only in our country but beyond. We believe this program will significantly enhance her theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and professional networking opportunities for the future.” – Slovak Republic Table Tennis Association 

The ITTF “My Gender. My Strength.” Project supports achievement of the strategic goals of the ITTF GEDI Action Plan – https://www.ittf.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/ITTF-GROUP-GEDI.pdf, which also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. 

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