By Neto Baptiste
Table tennis in Antigua and Barbuda is alive and well despite many challenges brought on by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to President of the Antigua and Barbuda Table Tennis Association (ABTTA), Charles Bellot, who said limited sessions are still being held at the Multipurpose & Exhibition Cultural Centre.
“I make sure I invest at least 15 hours per week in training those persons. We have a cadre of about 10 or 12 youngsters down at Multipurpose, so because of the online schooling, some can come in the mornings and some in the evenings, so a minimum of hours that is set each week is 15,” he said.
“The table tennis boards allow for natural distancing and we implement things such as one layer per side so I stay on one side [of the board] and they stay on the other with a maximum of four to five players at a time and we sanitize the equipment, so the usual,” he added.
The sport, which had been dormant for some time prior to 2018, had a resurgence that same year with Bellott pledging to reach 500 players in 500 days as the body went on a massive recruitment drive.
According to the president however, although he was able to convince a little over half of the 500 individuals to try their hand at the sport, he was unable to persuade all of them to become members of the association.
“We had gotten up to 267 [players] but where the failing was is that we didn’t get them to sign up in terms of becoming members so that was the problem, but we got up to 267 and it was good but I suffered from burnout really quick because I use to go to Academy [St. Joseph’s Academy], the Antigua Grammar School, so I had to retire from active work,” he said.
Bellot was unable to state when the body would be able to stage its first competition.