Dec 29, 2008 Sports
– to learn from “failures” this yearBy Edison Jefford
After giving the Guyana Table Tennis Association’s (GTTA) performance this year a 6½ out of 10 rating and then supplying the reasons for the evaluation, General Secretary Godfrey Munroe predicts a successful 2009.
Munroe made it absolutely clear that the association will specifically target those areas in which they failed this year. In an exclusive interview with Kaieteur Sport recently, he said that the GTTA has learnt its lessons.
“Next year will definitely be a great year for table tennis, we plan to direct our energies to ensuring that the lessons learned from our failings in 2008 are not repeated,” Munroe said in the no–holds–barred interview.
While recognising that the sport is not spectator–based locally, which was identified as a major obstacle, Munroe pointed out ways that the sport can generate revenue apart from dependence on patrons at local tournaments.
The aspect of funding for the sport and athletes was undeniably an issue because of how it prevented Guyana from more international exposure this year; that, among other failures, led to Munroe’s 6½ evaluation this year.
“Sports such as table tennis, squash and a few other sports are very unique given that they are not fully spectator–based, however, the true potential of these sports can be realised if we follow the model of mass participation.”
“Mass participation leads to popularisation and popularisation leads to profitability. This can be achieved through having programmes, which would encourage and sustain persons actively participating at all levels,” he explained.
According to the General Secretary, if the number of players is increased then the body will have a greater number of registered athletes, which will up the revenue generated from registration fees alone.
“Equipment sales, coaches employ, attraction of sponsors to the numbers participating at the different levels and sponsorship to address equipment availability at a lower cost,” also form part of the GTTA 2009 economic plan.
Munroe recognised when asked if those lofty ideas will remain rhetoric that there is need for a strategic and comprehensive approach involving every Executive of the association if those goals are to be realised.
“Comprehensive planning and working [together] to reach to that stage of our strategic plan will have to speak to these issues. While enacting is key, prudently addressing the issues that are realistic [is as important],” he said.
“Fixing the goals that are realistic and manageable would in time contribute to the true growth of the sport,” he added. The GTTA official had previously expressed disappoint in the performance of some Executives this year.
ON THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW BREED OF PLAYERS
In recent years, a specific group of players including Michelle John, Trenace Lowe, Idi Lewis, Mathew Khan and Christopher Franklin has dominated the local scene, which brings into question the emergence of more players.
When asked if there is any specific programme aimed at improving their inventory of quality players, Munroe supplied a few names and more exposure as his answer to the question of a development curriculum.
“There is an emergence of a good group of junior girl players such as Adele Rosheuvel, Chelsea Edghill, Ambrose Thomas, Varsha Panday and Analisa Branche to bolster Lowe and John,” he observed. “John’s moving to the senior ranks and also migrating to pursue studies is great for the sport; there is also Elishaba Johnson, Kyle Edghill, Samuel Fraser and Stephon Patoir as cadets,” Munroe continued.
The General Secretary believes that more work is needed at the boys’ level as opposed to the girls’ where he said that the latter is likely to be more competitive than the former and that does not augurs well for the sport.
“The lagging in the boys division in terms of our talent find with the exception of Nigel Bryan and the now budding Denzil Hopkinson is something we have to seriously address in our programmes,” Munroe noted.
His formula for dealing with that issue was to increase the pool of players with different techniques from all across Guyana. His belief is that a broadened base will heighten the peak of already internationally exposed players.
In addition, the association will be looking to offer more cash incentives for players as a means of motivation. Munroe’s idea is that monetary incentives attracts more players and generate more interest in sport locally.
GUYANA OPEN AND CARIBBEAN GOODWILL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2009
The GTTA General Secretary disclosed for the first time plans for a Guyana Open and Caribbean Goodwill Championships next year.
“Definitely we will be bringing back our Goodwill tournament [in 2009] that includes Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago with the inclusion of teams from the USA and Canada,” Munroe said. “I would wish to see a gravitation of businesses from pageants and frolics to investing some more in our athletes, placing them in advertisements and sponsoring our Guyana Open and Caribbean Goodwill Championships,” he continued.
According to the lead GTTA official, USA and Canada have already expressed interest in participating in the event and the Games would take a premier place on the association’s calendar of events next year. “They [USA and Canada] are enthused by the prospects of coming to Guyana and play. The hope is to have this tournament as an annual feature, being a signature event in view of developing it to create a legacy,” he mused.
Asked what will be some of the spin–offs from the concept of the major undertaking, the GTTA officer said that the Games will help to popularise the sport, give exposure to players and benefit Guyana’s tourism product.
He said that the Goodwill Games next year will be a precursor for efforts to host a World Junior Circuit event here in 2011, which would bring over 400 players to Guyana with live television broadcast across the world.
Apart from the Goodwill Games, Munroe said that several other tournaments are already in the pipelines for next year, including an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)–sponsored Caribbean Junior Training Camp.
The Guyana National Table Tennis Championships will be a fixture slated for March and invitations are expected to be sent to all the leading players including United States–based, Sydney Christophe and Paul David.
A Ministry, Business and Inter–Corporation tournament will feature in the 2009 calendar of events. The Table Tennis for Schools and Communities Programme and training for coaches is to commence in the first quarter.
“We will be approaching corporate Guyana to donate tables to each school with their names on them for advertising mileage; we will also be approaching persons to sponsor tables for their Alma Mater,” Munroe disclosed.
The General Secretary said that the association will be looking to take full advantage of an ITTF International Referees’ Seminar in April with the intention of raising the local officiating standard of the game. Munroe said that aspect of the game needs improvement ahead of the association’s whim to host regional and international tournaments. He is of the view that table tennis can become as popular and structured as hockey.
Apart from the local and regional competition, the GTTA will hope to make their mark at the Caribbean Pre–Cadet and Cadets Championship in Grenada March–April; World Championships in Japan and Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
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