Over 300 young ping-pong players will converge at the DG Hathiramani Hall at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday for a fierce showdown in this year’s edition of the Ghana Table Tennis Association’s (GTTA) National Youth Championship.
The competition will host events in both male and female categories in the U-21, U-18, U-15 and U-11 age divisions where they will compete in a best of three format before switching to a best of five format from the quarter-finals stage.
Dubbed ‘Talent meets Opportunity’, the competition which is expected to kickstart the ping-pong season also forms part of the GTTA’s quest to unearth national talents through their Discovery Series initiative.
Announcing the event at the Accra Sports Stadium Media Centre on Monday, president of the GTTA, Mr. Mawuko Afadzinu said it was important that the new table-tennis calendar begun with the youth championship as that represented the foundational stone and path to progress for the sport to expand beyond the shores of Ghana.
He revealed that as an association, they were elated at the record number of girls registered to participate in this year’s edition and the national interest the event was garnering.
He said the GTTA was bent on expanding its activities to all 16 regions as table-tennis was a national sport that needed to be accessed by the best talent with Saturday’s competition a major step in unearthing talent ahead of the African Games to be hosted in Ghana in 2023 and the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
Mr Afadzinu revealed that GTTA was rolling out big initiatives for female table-tennis this season including the ‘Sheroes’ project backed by the International Table-Tennis Federation (ITTF)
“This is to ensure that a space is created for females to thrive in table-tennis and not just at the level of the players but the entirety of the support system that would allow females, no matter their role in table-tennis, to thriveand feel part of a big part of the table-tennis community.”
He added that the gender that had chalked most success for Ghana in table-tennis was the female division and Ghana’s chances of success in table- tennis was always enhanced when the female division was strengthened.
According to Mr. Afadzinu, as part of the ‘Sheroes’project, a national youth championship,designed for only females, a seminar and a project that encouraged more women to pursue careers in other areas of the sport including coaching, umpiring and administrative work, will commence.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO