Passion + Pride + Respect = Puerto Rico !

Before we get started ; Shame on you, Mr Director !!!… for failing to maintain and feed the Eleven Points blog with the proper content.

To run a blog is all about having a few minutes over, proper load of motivation and  solid intent.  It has been an intense year, plenty of changes in life and work and for the better or for the worse the blog has been quiet for a while.

Better change that , and what I good argument we have as well ; The 2011 ( played in 2012) ITTF Global Cadet Challenge and Junior Circuit Finals , successfully held  with  a huge portion of  organizational Pride and Passion in San Juan,  Puerto Rico..  Let me echo the excellent public announcer from the well dressed Convention Center. Viva Puerrrrto  ( with strong rolling on the R’s) Rico. To the President of the Puerto Rico National association; Mr Ivan SANTOS  and to all his foot- soldiers; You nailed this one. You made us all feel special and you showed great respect for the future of our sport, the young athletes and their coaches. Muchas Gracias Amigos  !

Now.. Without further delay. Here they come – the 2011 ITTF Global Cadet Challenge and Junior Circuit Finals awards;

The Best Ever Organized Cadet Challenge award goes to; Puerrrto Rico

Let’s start with a so called “No brainer”. Everything perfect. Great venue and hotel, good food and a strong group of  volunteers that each and every day ( and night)  went to work with their heads held high. It is called respect for our sport. Thank You Ivan Santos and all the helpers. You all touched my heart from day one.  And .. not to be forgotten . Both cadet teams and the juniors involved did not back down at all. They put up a good fight as they say. Very Well Done !

The No Army in the World can beat a Good Idea award goes to the; ITTF World Hopes Team concept.

The ITTF WHT composed of slightly younger, but still very skillful players really added value to the 2011 edition of the challenge.  This was ITTF Education and Development at its best  ;   athletes centered and youth oriented. The team showcased a nice blend of Universality, Excellence and Development. It also turned out to be a useful learning experience for the young athletes, who all got a good taste of what to come in the future , if they are able to qualify for respective continental team.  High marks to the team manager Zita PIDL  as well as  the two coaches ;  Jarek  KOLODZIEJCZYK and  Dejan PAPIC,  who all worked hard to maintain team unity.

The Best Player in the Challenge Award goes to; LIU Gaoyang from China

Perhaps a tossup between the two Chinese players coming to Puerto Rico?  But the left-handed LIU Gaoyang secured three gold medals for Team Asia and solved all the problems she was facing with good grace and skillful touch.

The most promising European player in many years award goes to; Marie Migot from France.

There is a lot to like about this little warrior from the deep forests of France. Marie Migot is born 1998 with two more years to go in the cadet age category.  She’s got game – she’s got grit and she has the technical skills all in order to outplay anything coming her way in Europe for the next few years. The “Cool Cat in Black” can be THE ONE in European Female Table Tennis – just like that.

The fire and ice award goes to Nicole TROSMAN  from Israel and Team Europe 

Fast paced style. Plenty of passion and the good emotions working for her..Most of the time.  Some ice in the veins at times could however do wonders for an interesting Israeli athlete that clearly takes her table tennis seriously. Finished on the podium in her first challenge, always a great achievement

The “Rewarded for hard work on the 2011 Junior Circuit” award goes to HUNG Tzu-Hsiang from Chinese Taipei

Technically skilled penholder that has a tendency to back off from the table too easy when facing pressure. This must be corrected in order to take the next step into the ultra competitive senior ranks. HUNG won a fairly mediocre Junior Circuit Finals by defeating the Korean defender CHOI in the final. It’s always good to see a strong effort getting the desired result. Chinese Taipei invested in the junior circuit in 2012 and it paid off.

The most focused player award goes to Lily ZHANG from the USA and Team North America

It’s hard to believe that Lily ZHANG only made her second appearance in the challenge. She played in Sweden 2008 last time.  This time Lily practiced great and was sharp in her preparation the whole week. Clearly arriving in Puerto Rico on a mission – to compete for the win.   The North American nr one returned back home with one silver (team event) and two bronze medals in singles and doubles.   I think that just a smidgen of positive emotions in the heat of the moment   could have made a difference for the better .Sometimes it’s important to have fun when you are working kind of thing.

The “Best ever Cadet Challenge Rookie Performance goes to ;  Kanak JHA from the USA and the World Hopes.

From nowhere to everywhere. Nicknamed by his team mates as “Duracell”, the eleven year old wonder boy from Milpitas took everybody with storm. Kanak, if not playing, watched   all good matches applying his special sponge mentality sucking up strokes, shots and good performances before peeling over to the practice hall where he was playing, experimenting and simply having fun. When it was all said and done Kanak finished nr twelve in the Boys singles. An amazing performance by one of the most spectacular talents we have seen in the junior programme since the days of Jun MIZUTANI.

The “Best Athlete”  award goes to Hugo CALDERANO  from  Brazil and Team ULTM

Believe me, there is a certain shimmer of pure class and athletic power around this player, surely one of the most promising Brazilians ever.  Future success is around the corner. The level however will eventually be decided not by a backhand here and forehand there, but more relate to carefully applied management strategies and the ability to apply world class knowledge   .  If Hugo can remain healthy and injury free we are looking at top 40 – top 20 position only in three or four years with more to come after that.  However no trees will reach the sky in Table Tennis without the ability to adjust and apply the good tactical sense.  This time Hugo let two missed game points in the opening game of his semifinal against the Korean KIM Min Hyeok spoil what could have been a great Sunday. But Hey and  Ho !  – Rio 2016 here we come. I picture a strong twenty year old athlete that easily can be the talk of the town by then.

The “Best Coaching Performance”   award goes to ;   Wayne GEAR  from New Zealand ,  Team Oceania and   Karima TELLAA from Algeria and Team AFRICA.

Coaches and managers are extremely important for the overall success of the challenge. Day out and Day in they have to keep the young players honest, focused and hard working.  To coach some of the better, more self driven athletes, is all about detailed preparation, tactics and technique.  To work with the middle to low-end players require a lot more patience, passion and discipline.. Great to see former player Wayne GEAR take time of from special police duties down in Kiwi-land and make his fourth appearance at the Challenge. He worked hard all the way through and got in the end rewarded by Roger Rao who advanced to the top sixteen segment in the cadet boys singles. Karima TELLAA  from Algeria is one of the best female coaches in Africa and I simply like the intensity in her work .  This time she also had to  jump  over the fence, several times,  to try to sort out some disciplinary unrest in the African boy’s team.

The “Today I Decided to”  … award goes to Adriana DIAZ  from Puerto Rico.

Of course the future looks bright  for the eleven year old star from Utuadu, Puerto Rico; Adriana  DIAZ . There is a lot to like about this player. She has all the tools in the world, nice technique , good overall game and the  deep down love for attention often reserved only for top  athletes . Played well, fought hard in the team event for her country.  However when the day of the group matches in the singles came , she decided to shut it all down in the opening match. Expectations and pressure got to young Diaz this time, who that very day displayed a very special style of disinterest and lack of motivation. But Hey and Ho – This young girl will grow up with her Table Tennis and she will be the finest, most successful player in the Americas one day.

The “Best Playing Dress” award goes to Team North America;

Team North America looked extremely good in the nice, soft colors and well matched printing. There is something special with JOOLA and the Cadet Challenge. For many years they have taken care of Team Asia in a classy way. Good to see them onboard also with other teams.

The “Must Be Better Next Year” award nr 1 goes to; Aly GHALLAB from Egypt /Team Africa

Team Africa’s boys team clearly underperformed this year and never reached any standard worth writing about. The left-handed egyptian  has got some tools in his game that may help him in the future.. However young GHALLAB  really needs to secure first base by Eating well – working on his physical conditioning and perhaps most important of all to show good energy in the court. Too much head  down – complete lack of energy kind of performance this time. Dropped like a stone in the singles competition  and finished well below his standard at position  25.

The “Must Be Better Next Year”  award nr 2 goes to; Fermin TENTI Argentina and Team ULTM;

Athletically gifted young player out of La Plata, Argentina. Talent wise also right up there as one of the best in class. Started well with a good training camp ,  but never found any kind of rhythm or confidence in the competition and struggled basically from day one.  I suspect poor preparation at home and lack of sparring partners as the main reasons for falling off the bike when the wheels started to turn. Let’s hope that Fermin and his family and the Argentinian Association  gets together as soon as possible to  come up with a strong plan for the next few years.. The potential is there, RIO 2016 within reach ,  but the race is on.  In fact, just as a reminder, it has already started.  

Final thoughts and Honorable mentioning’s;

Best Ever Competition Manger at the Challenge award goes to; Senor Raul Calin. In fact he is the only one we ever had – and trust me without him; Hey and Ho – how would it then turn out?!

The Best Ever Sport Official I have ever met award   goes to; Mr Henry Newman, Puerto Rico. Positive, upfront and well informed – a true dancer with grace. Multi-tasked from day one mixing TV work with official duties always showing positive energy   .

The Fighting spirit award goes to Brian AFANADOR, Puerto Rico.  Perhaps in need for some technical and tactical fine-tuning in order to remain competitive for his age. But a great kid that has come a long way in a short time.  If There is a Will – There is a Way!

Give us an ITTF Hot Spot Training Center in Utuado!  Our words and policies fit their world and needs – it’s called the perfect fit!

More Puerto Rico Bananas to the people of the world. Best in taste – simply world class all according to a certain banana eating  “back to blogging “director!

That’s all for now . Back to the daily dog walks in slush, freezing rain and snow up to the ankles. It will be a long winter.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading this post !

Mikael Andersson, ITTF 



Filed under ITTF Global Junior Programme

7 responses to “Passion + Pride + Respect = Puerto Rico !

  1. Zita

    Yes, not during the event as we were used to, but very well done Mr Director! Like it …and looking forward to the next one! 🙂

  2. Zita

    I mean the next Cadet Challenge. (Of course, your next post too! :D)

  3. Marangely

    As I told you here in PR, I enjoy reading your blog!!! Thanks for everything!

  4. Leandro

    nice article Mikael, clear and funny to read

  5. Very nicely written article and the humor makes it all the more fun to read. Another award to the Puerto RRRRicans for keeping the weather just perfect for us! That takes some planning and organizing for sure 🙂

    Sorry to hear that the weather in your place isn’t like Puerto Rico 🙂

  6. Mikael Berglund

    Great post. What happened to the Swedes?

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