Located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius was the recent host for a trilogy of courses staged under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme; proceedings commenced on Saturday 24th January and concluded on Thursday 29th January.

Mentor for the courses designed for Basic Umpires, Basic Referees and Tournament Organisation was Uganda’s Ronald Mugwanya.

Venue for the whole proceedings was the Beau Bassin Sports Complex, a centre which holds 20 table tennis tables, quite unique for Africa. The course was conducted in English.

A total of 15 students attended, 11 men and four women coming from various towns in Mauritius and from a range of backgrounds.

Government employees, coaches, students, players and those who worked in the private sector, attended.

Opening Address
“On the opening day in her speech, Ms Ashita Beenessreesingh, President of the Mauritius Table Tennis Association, thanked the International Table Tennis Federation for staging the course and pointed out that they came at the right moment”, explained Ronald Mugwanya. “Mauritius will host an ITTF World Junior Circuit event later this year, as well as the Africa Cadet and Junior Championships.”

Motivating words and it was a motivated group, with clearly the tournaments that will take place in April, being very much in mind.

Enthusiastic Response
“All became involved in the activities that included being role models, making presentations and simulating possible incidents during a match; this was appreciated by all”, added Robert Mugwanya. “Practical umpiring was on the menu as playing tables were available in the seminar table tennis hall of the Beau Bassin Sports Complex; dealing with a highly intellectual group made the task easier.”

The nature of the group was reflected in the results at the end of the course.

“Out of the 12 people, who sat the Basic Umpires exam, all the 12 passed with high marks”, explained Robert Mugwanya, who was clearly delighted with the outcome and was equally pleased with the response on the Basic Referees Course.

Learning Process
“They discovered several draw systems and how to solve ties in groups, as well as separating players from similar associations in a draw”, continued Robert Mugwanya. “They learned that it was important to distinguish responsibilities during a tournament; on the Umpires Course, they learned that you must not be late to call a let, on the Referees Course that rule interpretation is key.”

Two parts of the overall itinerary concluded, the last day focused on tournament organisation.

“During the workshop, candidates were given a challenge to plan for the events later in the years”, said Robert Mugwanya. “They had many great ideas; notably Deepsha Appa, a female student in Marketing at the University of Mauritius shared her ideas.”
Matters concluded it was time for gifts.

“Participants each received a training shirt and since I am an elected member of the Paris Table Tennis Committee and currently the Deputy Secretary General; I felt it would please my candidates to receive a souvenir from the courses”, continued Robert Mugwanya. “I also gave gifts that included a stop watch, umpiring cards, net gauges plus other table tennis related gifts.”

Continually Robert Mugwanya receives backing from Tibhar.
“In support of the courses, we can offer the umpiring kits at very subsidized price”, said Andres Huber from the Tibhar Company.

Sports Award Evening
A busy time for Ronald Mugwanya with an invitation to the Sports Award Evening being on the agenda and table tennis recognised; the Junior Sportsman of Year Award went to table tennis.

Also nominated was Isabelle Chowree who excelled on the course and is determined to be present in April for the ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament.

Looking Forward
Certainly Mauritius is looking to the future and is anxious to measure themselves against the best in the continent.

“We need to know the level of young players in comparison with countries like Egypt and Nigeria”, said Patrick Sahajasein, Olympian and Technical Director of Federation. “Organizing tournaments is one of the ways to achieve this objective and doing it correctly necessitates preparation; the Tournament Organisation Course was a good choice and I urge many countries to bring their cadets and junior players to Mauritius to take part in the ITTF World Junior Circuit event and the African Junior and Cadet Championships.”

Votes of Thanks
A busy schedule concluded; Vimal Basanta Lala, the Secretary General of the Mauritius Table Tennis Association and President of the Organising Committee for the Mauritius Junior and Cadet Open, thanked everyone and urged the students to employ their newly acquired skills at the forthcoming tournament.

In addition Rajessen Desscann, the Coach of the Year, expressed his appreciation to the International Table Tennis Federation and in particular to Michael Brown, the Development Officer for Oceania and Africa, for making matters possible.

Proceedings concluded with a visit to clear blue sea waters and sun drenched beaches; tough life being an ITTF Course Conductor!

Tournament Dates
The Mauritius Junior and Cadet Open will be staged from Friday 3rd to Tuesday 7th April with the ITTF-Africa Junior and Cadet Championships being held from Wednesday 8th to Sunday 12th April; as with the courses conducted by Robert Mugwanya, both events will be staged in Bean Bassin.