The Value of a Simple Thought

Omar Assar from Egypt - the leading role model for young African players

Omar Assar from Egypt - the leading role model for young African players

The ITTF Cadet Challenge & Junior Circuit Finals 2009 in Tokyo is coming to and end.

My blogging friend and colleague Mr Glenn Tepper wrote a brilliant piece on the Cadet Challenge  yesterday , with some solid conclusions ; http://ittfgjp.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/something-special/  . This event,  with all its complexity is an important piece in the ongoing work to grow the interest for our sport worldwide. 

 Almost all things in life , good or bad ,  starts with a solid idea. When we worked on the concept of staging a major ITTF event targeting the cadet age discussions centered very quickly around the continental concept. We believed that by introducing a continental team competition the development of  youth athletes would take off on the continental level.

Listening the other day,  to two very experienced and hard-working Team Managers on duty here in Tokyo  ; Mr Khaled El Sahly from Egypt and the long serving Asian team Manager Liu Yi from China , made me proud.  Both of them praised the ITTF for their support  in making things happen leading up to this event. Funding provided makes a difference they said – the concept of  having only one athlete per country involved in the teams is also very good. It allows lesser known countries to expose young players to a high level ITTF  competition.

This is what we said  from the very beginning , back in 2002 , about the ITTF Cadet Challenge ;

“A quality competition for the cadet age- level with direct representation for continental associations in a specially designed Ryder Cup format. When fully operative the ITTF World Cadet Challenge will serve as the main goal tying together world-wide High Performance initiatives for a crucial age group”.

Personally i have always been a bit of a believer. A simple thought – a good  idea if you will , can change the world. Reflecting on the status here in Tokyo where we can  follow also athletes a few years after their introduction to the ITTF CC,  competing in the ITTF Junior Circuit Finals,  the link to future excellence seems obvious.  

Having said both this and that , there are however other factors kicking in when it comes to the still beautiful and ambitious idea of   : Changing the World of Table Tennis;  So from the ITTF Education and Training Director , to all of you,  here comes a few creative takes in the shape of a top ten list  posted directly from Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in October 2009 ;

How to change the world of table tennis ;

10.  Believe in quality coaching ! ; It is time to do something about the American continent.  No shortage of talents for the  moment both in Latin America and North America draws interest. But with the current level of coaching provided at the national level – especially in Latin America not much will happen. We can always grab the players early and move them to international training environment – but then without close up coaching of personal nature they will get lost on the international scene.

9. Close all Laptops at events in Latin America !  ; Pretty brutal to see how much time even some of the best players from Latin America spend in from of the screen.. Now to a point that match preparation is LOST in the cyberworld…connection to Nr 10 obvious.

8. Develop a defensive player in Egypt ! ; Now Egypt is quickly becoming a hot -bed for table tennis.. High activity level – strong clubs and improved talent identification is  supporting a rapid development within the country . Parents and athletes ambitions to compete internationally  will soon reach new heights  whith Omar Assar leading the way. I would like to  see more difference in styles and techniques.. Kingdom for a defensive player ?!! Imagine ! 

7. Born in the USA ; It is simply encouraging to see the increased  level of interest for our sport in the USA .  Fueled by young players  and their parents  the  pressure for more international opportunities will only rise.. Be aware USATT ; It is also time for the ITTF to take the lead.. What about a USA Talent Team co-funded by the ITTF , USA Olympic Committee and USATT..? I am sure it would work.

6. Learn the Japanese language ; Steve Dainton – the ITTF Marketing Director for the  moment positioned in Beijing  China speaks perfect Mandarin . Imagine if the young Aussie could learn another language and start pounding the Japanese market with quality advice and marketing ideas. Good athletes they already have . International coaching influences allowed would help the players and improved marketing of the game would propel the interest for our sport.. Enough said.

5. Introduce Video techniques  to keep the service rule under control ; Time for the ITTF to take the lead when it comes to the introduction of video technique in order to improve the existing service rule and get away from top players covering their services.

4. Live the Olympic Dream ! ; The introduction of the Youth Olympic Games is probably the best thing that could have happen for our sport.. We are ready to present Table Tennis as one of the prime sports in Singapore.

3. Understand the future ! ; The role of national associations in Table Tennis will change.. slowly. More and more privately funded initiatives  and training centers will gain momentum. Lets hope that more thoughts and resources are channeled towards youth development. The successful model of the French Table Tennis Association step by step adding opportunities for very young talents will hopefully inspire other national associations as well.

2. Believe in the impossible ;  One talented player + one talented coach – Anywhere in the world !

1. Release the Power of Sports ; In this day and age.. Pride – Passion and Purpose counts !

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Value of a Simple Thought

  1. Whitney Ping

    Mikael,

    Truly enjoy your posts (I’m sure you have far more readers than those who comment!). You are the best – or at least most honest/insightful writer – in table tennis. We should chat further about point #7 and a US Talent Team… I’d love to see that happen since I’m a big fan of our upcoming generation.

    Whitney

  2. Thanks Whitney,
    Yes, it is time to come out to support the young US generation. They will get lost if we cannot find common ground …I would love to have you involved as a former athlete. More to come.

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