It is hard to believe that eight years have passed since we first introduced the ITTF Cadet Challenge , very much a unique event, not only measured with the ITTF stick , but also in the big picture youth sporting world.
From a man that have seen them all, there will be some historical flashbacks on the blog later on. However, the first posting from the 2010 Global (Please bring back the word – World!!) Cadet Challenge must reflect on a country that very well could be the next hotbed for our sport ; India. I have seldom seen such an enthusiasm among a young group of players and school kids flocking the arena already during the two first days of the traditional training camp opening proceedings here in Hyderabad. Eager to get a piece of the action they are camping with their parents outside the court waiting for every opportunity to pull out paper and pen to get an autograph from the young athletes . In itself a fantastic experience for our athletes, that I am sure will escalate and grow stronger once the tournament actually starts.
The two first days of camp action has all been about Peter Karlsson – The Big Swede and his presence in the hall. I have said it before – but will repeat. Not all good players will go on and become good coaches. It takes a certain skill, a persistent mindset and most of all a genuine interest in other people to be able to make that transition. No doubt that in Peter Karlsson we have a good coach not only for the benefit of Swedish Table Tennis but also for the world stage and various ITTF events.
Best in camp so far you might ask? What about the complete set up with a nice venue carefully prepared by the never stop working ITTF Global Junior Programme Director – Mr Raul Calin and the local organizers. As for outstanding individual performances in training so far , my personal pick would be the Cadet Challenge first timer , a young girl from the Ahl Ahly club in Egypt bound to lead the way for African Cadet Girls team here in India ; Alia DOAA. She has simply been working incredible hard in practice showing flashes of a tough close to the table attacking game with great potential for the future.
Other early bird observations from Hyderabad;
- And… The sharpest looking team is the Butterfly sponsored Team Oceania… They get my vote at least!
- There are plenty of interesting players born 1996 in the teams this year. Worth mentioning is Hugo Calderon from Brazil who is looking strong. Another difference maker could be Roger Rao for Team Oceania – a gifted young player already showing competative skills, especially when he is motivationally dialed in.
- Among the girls it is fascinating to watch Arvelo Gremlis from Venezuela (also born 1996) getting ready for action. Nobody beats her when it comes to feeling and touch… But again when you factor in physical conditioning and footwork things get a different look.
- Charles Deng from USA made a splash in the ITTF World Hopes Team last year and is making his Cadet Challenge debut for the Pan Am team in Hyderabad. Small in stature – but with a much bigger game he is an interesting prospect from an untapped market.
- India will host the 2013 World Junior Championships in Dehli. The interesting part is that the young group of players representing at this event will be last year juniors when the championships comes around. They have plenty of talent the youngsters from India… Imagine if they also had just an ounce of physical conditioning and strength in their legs..Then things would start to move quicker than quick!
- It takes ten to fifteen minutes to reach the playing venue from our hotel. That is of course not bad – on the other hand if stuck behind these guys it will take much longer;
Did I hear someone say Incredible India?