Since staging the ITTF World Junior Circuit and African Junior Championships in 2015, Mauritius has been on the forefront of promoting table tennis with participating in sub-region and region tournaments.

And with the hosting of the 2017 Eastern African Regional Championships, the President of Mauritius Table Tennis Association (MTTA), Vimal Basanta Lala believes they are primed to host the 2018 African Senior Championships in 2018.

“After the regional tournament, we are hosting the African Senior Championship in August or September 2018 and we are also in the middle of preparations to host the Indian Ocean Games in 2019. So hopefully this will take our game and organization capability to a different level.”

Relying on the experience of 2015, the MTTA boss said: “I don’t think it will be that hard to stage these competitions because two years ago we organized an ITTF World Junior Circuit and the African Junior Championships here in Mauritius where we hosted about 10 countries. So I am confident that we have the requisite experience and what it takes to make things happen.”

He described the Sports Complex in Beau Bassin as one of the legacy that table tennis will inscribed in the Indian Ocean country. “We have had this facility since 2002 and we are one of the fortunate countries in Africa to have a designated gymnasium just for table tennis and nothing else. So we are proud of it and hope ITTF could make good use of the facility as we have requested them to have Africa training session and camps based here in Mauritius, so we could put this gymnasium at the disposal of Africa. Though it is owned by the government but it is at the disposal of MTTA.”

Considering the efforts made on the sports, he said: “I must say we have invested a lot in the youths and a number of baby- ping projects where we take children from 6 years old, so this has shown recently in our national championship with two boys of 13 years of age making it to the semifinal of senior men’s category and we are seeing all the rewards a lot more positively. Over the past few months we have seen so many 14-year-olds break into the national senior team and hopefully in five years we are targeting bronze at the African Championship level. I think it is difficult at this juncture for a country like Mauritius to defeat Egypt and Nigeria, but I am sure at this rate we can try to put a good fight against Algeria and Tunisia.”

Despite the inroads made, the MTTF helmsman acknowledged the challenges. “Universally, challenges are more or less the same- the more the cash you got the easier it is to effect development. You know table tennis is not like football and athletics. It is a ‘poor ‘ sport in developing countries. But somehow we keep trying our best with the limited resources to make the difference. As much as football is a cut above the rest, which is a trend in Africa, we have people with good faith who are willing to take the game forward.”

On the hosting of the 2017 Eastern African Championships, he said: “It has been a while that the Eastern region has been dormant, so after the setting up of the East African Committee, MTTA definitely wanted to do something beneficial and that’s how we put our heads together and approached ITTF and our regional president, Andrew Mudibo for the organisation of this event. For us we feel very proud to get something moving in the region and hopefully this can carry on to be a good cooperation among member counties. I must say we are very happy to see countries like Uganda, who we have not seen in recent international tournaments to be here as our guests.”