Fifteen years after hosting International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) major tournament in Africa, Ghana has affirmed its readiness to stage the World Junior Circuit (WJC) as well as the African Junior and Cadet Championship (AJCC) in April, 2019.
The WJC is one of the ITTF junior circuits, whereplayers across the globe amass points to qualify for the end-of-the-year World Junior Finals, while the AJCC is Africa’s qualifiers for the World Junior Championship as well as a platform to select African team for the World Cadet Challenge.
Ghana last hosted the AJCC in 2004 and this year the WJC holds on April 1 to 5 while the AJCC takes place on April 7 to 13.
Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Honourable Isaac Asiamah told the delegation of African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) led by its President, Khaled El-Salhy that the country is willing to restore its table tennis lost glory with the staging of the tournaments, which he said will help to unearth players that will represent Ghana at the 2023 African Games to be hosted by the West African nation.
The youthful minister, however, thanked ITTF and ATTF for choosing Ghana to host such important tournaments as the country possess great potentials in table tennis. “We are grateful to ITTF and ATTF for choosing Ghana as host of these important competitions and for us; we are excited that this is in line with our ideals of growing all sports from grassroots levels. We have been working hard to revive our school sports because we know we have the potential to be among the best in sports. I am also using this opportunity to charge the Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) to focus on schools across the country to be able to discover new talents that will make our country proud at the 2023 African Games which we are hosting,” Honourable Isaac Asiamah.
For the WJC and AJCC, the minister said: “We are ready to host the world and Africa in April and all arrangement in terms of security, accommodation and transportation will be addressed. We are also grateful to ITTF for deciding to provide table tennis equipment which has already been shipped to Ghana for the tournaments. For us, we want to use sports as a tool for job creation and that is why we want to develop others sports and not focusing on football. I must also let you know that table tennis is one of our priorities sports that we intend to use to create jobs for our youths. I must also commend the leadership role showed by Mawuko Afadzinu and we want to assure him our support.”
For ATTF President, Khaled El-Salhy, Ghana is one of the powerhouses of table tennis in the 1970s and in the last five years, the Mawuko Afadzinu-led GTTA board has been making frantic efforts to restore the glory of Ghana in the sport. “We know the potential of Ghana in table tennis and I was sure that with the staging of this kind of tournament, the country has the chance to unearth talents that will bring back the glory of Ghana. ITTF and ATTF will continue to support Ghana and with the staging of the tournament, Ghana will be the focus and this will surely project the image of Africa and Ghana,” the ATTF boss said.
Vice President, Western African region, Wahid Enitan Oshodi however, appealed to the minister to support GTTA in its efforts to revive the sport while calling for strong backing of Ghana government in staging a befitting tournaments in April.
A former national table tennis star in Ghana and Technical Adviser to the Minister, Dr. Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, who was part of the golden generations in table tennis stars in the West African nation recalled the golden days to Ghana’s dominance of table tennis in Africa. “I remembered that we used to dominate table tennis in the 1970s until 1973 when Nigeria hosted the African Games in Lagos that the dominance was thwarted and since then we have been struggling and I believe with the hosting of this kind of junior events, it will help us to discover new players toward the 2023 African Games,” Dr. Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah said.
The meeting held in the office of Ghana Minister of Youth and Sports in Accra was attended by the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Perry Okudzeto; Chief Director, Frank Quist; Chief Accountant, Emmanuel Oteng and Communications Consultant, Ahmed Osumanu Halid as well as Deputy PRO in the Ministry, Gifty Eghan.
The team from Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) included William Asare, treasurer and Nathaniel Kwesi Somuah, Media Officer.
The ATTF team is on a two-day inspection of facilities and hotels for the AWC and AJCC holding on April 1 to 13 in Accra.
STORY BY Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer