By Neto Baptiste
A demand for an increase in structured training sessions and competitions has forced the Antigua and Barbuda Table Tennis Association (ABTTA) to review its methods.
This is according to president of the body, Charles Bellot, who said that through the formation of the Wadadli Table Tennis Academy, the association will be making a concerted effort to not only teach the game, but to encourage groups to organize into fully functioning clubs.
“As a result of numerous requests from persons, we are trying to formalise the table tennis training. We need a little bit more autonomy because I am president of the ABTTA, but it doesn’t mean that I can get up and do whatever I want. So, to avoid those things, we are trying to encourage a culture of club formation so that we could have club championships and so on because you know that is how federations are moving to now. We are starting off, formalising the training and so we want to launch it in June 12,” he said.
Bellot, who revealed that sessions would target age groups ranging from five to 13 years, said plans also include a robust programme for the sister isle.
“Last week, we travelled to Barbuda and I took a board over. We got about 13 or 14 youngsters from Holy Trinity Primary and introduced them to the game; they absolutely love it and so, just like Cordell Williams did in tennis some time ago, it looks like I have just created another monster and I am going to have to pencil in regular trips to Barbuda now. I have had dialog with someone over there, a Robert Taylor, and he is gung-ho about all things sports and has already agreed to champion the cause over there,” he said.
The former national player, however, admitted that the association has and continues to have its issues.
“We need help administratively; we need more coaches to help [because] there is only so much that I can do on my own and yes, you have technology, ball cannons, this and that, but our biggest headaches right now are volunteers, more feet on the ground in terms of coaches and administrators,” Bellot said.
Table tennis classes are currently held at the Multipurpose Cultural & Exhibition Center.