Just like that the first ever ITTF World Hopes Challenge is upon us. In fact we made it a whole week of FUN and DEVELOPMENT, by adding what promises to be a very interesting five days training camp. Hosted by the newly opened Werner Schlager Academy, just outside Vienna, the World Hopes Week features some + 70 young athletes born on or after 1999 and another huge group of supporters, coaches and parents.
All in all – organizing a world type of event for such a young age category makes the ITTF fairly unique. In fact few International Federations are either not interested or able to draw on such a young clientel of athletes using a world vision.
But here WE are.. And I write the world WE in capital letters, defined as all staff working with the event, the organizers and all participating clients. The ITTF Hopes is at this point still just a unique idea of launching worldwide Talent Id project, targeting promise and youth for the benefit of national associations and eventually, many years later our sport as a whole. Let us remember that first hand when assessing the roads to travel from here.
Adjustments to come
Mind you that we also still, after only a few years of experience, constantly are in need for changes and adjustments to be made. The ITTF Hopes Programme has emerged as an interesting blend of Talent Id, Education and Support and will need another few years to find its perfect form.. But then.. Look out for as I said a UNIQEU, CREATIVE and FUN world programme that for sure will benefit growth of our sport and strengthen the ever so important UNIVERSALITY factor rapidly gaining ground in the Olympic movement.
We started in 2009 with our fist selection of talents. Held a successful training camp and activity in China for a very interesting group of young players, some of them now only a few years later making their way through to international recognition, not only at junior level but also, recently in major continental events.
The 2010 group gathered in Korea and competed in the Euro Mini champs in Schlitigheim, France. Again promise, talent and hard work have put some of the 2010 Hopes in a good position to compete already this summer at the cadet level in major continental championships.
Hot Spots now open for business
So, we arrive in 2011, and I believe that now have found the form and shape of the ITTF Hopes Programme by adding the ITTF World Hopes Week as the main focus for this age group. We are also committed to staging this event each year and connecting it to the new ITTF Hot Spot Training center network featuring, at this point twenty-two training centers in seventeen countries. The WSA, in all its pride surely one of the flagship centers is getting the first kick of the can. Others may follow and we already have positively enough indication of interest from other countries for 2012.
But first come first; the 2011 ITTF World Hopes Week in Schwechat, Austria and my wishes/ thoughts can, on the eve of the event be summarized as follows;
Let the TALENTS of Table Tennis roam free. Let us believe in GLOBAL REACH. Allow us to become STRONGER and BETTER . Send a prayer or two? To the GODS of TABLE TENNIS. Meet the CHAMPIONS in person. Promote the COACHING profession. CELEBRATE our Sport, CELEBRATE fun. REWARD Hopes.
That’s it for now. See you out there. Welcome to Austria.