It’s one of these nights when the clock doesn’t really agree with your inner self. I am awake – its early morning in late October 2012 and I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that the proud Blogging Director – a fifty year old travel veteran – is caught on the wrong island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Instead of walking the grounds of the Island of Guam – the host of the 2012 World (thank you TT –god for adding that word) Cadet Challenge, I am spending the night in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Yes, yes I agree. There are plenty of worse places in the world for a 24 hour stop. But here I am blogging away from my hotel room and thinking (and I do that a lot) about the upcoming eleventh addition of the World Cadet Challenge. I have seen them all – right from the start one hot summer in Hungary 2002 to the nr 10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico – organized just nine month ago.
There was a time when my work was IT with this event. It couldn’t have started without me and the ground services that I provided starting with coaching the training camp – supporting the event and trying to fill in the blanks all over the place. This is no longer the case as we now have professional competition staff to steer the ship. Yet – one man’s dedication and hard work has propelled this event to be one of the best organized events on the ITTF calendar. I am talking about my dear colleague and the wizard of anything and everything connected to ITTF GJP competitions; Senor Raul Calin the ITTF Competition Director.
The Cadet Challenge has been tough on Raul – especially the last two years with us bouncing out on open water so to say with the event organized in new and untapped markets; Puerto Rico and now Guam. The upside is motivated organizers and close , close connection with government sporting authorities , very much needed just to secure the funding and infrastructure for hosting. All of this means – you build the event from scratch – in venues and with a presentation level that is way higher than anything normally connected to our sport in the countries. That spells working hours – long and regular visits and a great deal of pushing coming from us (read Raul).
What I want to say is this; We owe him one. Perhaps a tap on the shoulder and the gracious phrase of Thank You will do for now, but in the future we must work to take this event to established and strong table tennis markets for a couple of years. On top of that we should send Raul for a well deserved vacation – which is , most likely , a much harder task to succeed with.
Anyway – Here we are. The list of 2012 entries is published and we can look forward to watch the future of Table Tennis perform in practice (three day training camp) and in competition. Eight full teams (from what I heard – full credit to the local organizers for securing Visas) and sixty four young talents under the same roof.
The most interesting aspect of all this year might not be one individual player (although the Asian team is loaded with high level cadet players) but a group of talents graduating as past and present ITTF Hopes players. When we launched the Global talent Identification program ITTF for Hopes players 12 years and under back in 2009 I had this day and this event in mind. Call it long term thinking ( and I do that a lot) – call it curiosity – call it passion or whatever you like but I am genuinely interested in how they will stand up and what kind of competitive spirit the players who got the chance over the years in the Hopes programme can come up with. Looking at the lineup of the continental teams we have not fewer than thirteen to fifteen players, from all six continents , closely connected to the Hopes programme – either as active team member or as participant in one of the training camps .
That is a good result in itself. On top of that I am also pretty sure that we will see top performances delivered by some of the graduating Hopes (born 1997). It will be interesting to see what Brian AFANADOR and Fermin TENTI can do for team ULTM . In team Asia we have the much travelled HUNG Ka Tak from Hong Kong and Patric ZATOWKA from Poland competing for Europe. and we should also keep a close eye on Salma KHALED the best cadet girl from Africa as well as some of the many interesting 98’s competing for North America.
If they have something to prove the Hopes (mind you they are still young), it is to be sharp in training and in competition. And by that I mean train hard – prepare well – be coachable and to show competitive spirit more than a fancy shot here and there. That’s what we tried to teach them and more importantly their coaches and their national associations. We believed in the vision that early success and recognition would drive the motivation – improve the confidence and fuel the ambition to learn the “professional” trade of our sport ( as a coach and as an athlete ) – to become something unexpected – something great. As a sport we need that more than anything else – we need to see deep into the future with a great deal belief that in the world of sport impossible is nothing.
To my dear Hopes; I will be watching, I have expectations and I see everything. To the coaches; be aware of a pair of critical eyes. To all of you; enjoy the 2012 World Cadet Challenge.