The most northerly country in the continent of Africa, Tunisia has been a beehive of activities for young aspiring players.

Organised under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme and in conjunction with the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), the country has been the home for two most significant events for players in the Under 12 age group.

A National Hopes Week was held in the city of Rafraf from March 7 to 13; immediately following, from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th March, Tunis, the country’s capital city, was the home for the Northern Africa Hopes Week and Challenge..

Meanwhile, already underway, commencing on Saturday 26th March, the Southern Africa Hopes Week will be held in Kenya; it will conclude on Thursday 31st March.
The expert on duty to conduct the Training Camps was Aleksey Yefremov of Belarus.

“A total of 25 aspiring young African players, from Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia attended the camp; all showed a great deal of energy and a desire to play table tennis”, said Aleksey Yefremov. “No doubt they want to follow in the footsteps of Quadri Aruna, Omar Assar, El-Sayed Lashin, Dina Meshref, Edem Offiong, as well as their very own Safa Saidani.”
Notably, Safa Saidani has qualified for the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Two training sessions were held per day from 8.45am to 11.45am and from 3.45pm to 6.45pm”, continued Aleksey Yefremov. “The whole week was staged in the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation’s hall which is located at the Olympic Sports Centre.”
Aleksey Yefremov organised a thorough and extensive itinerary.

“Warming-up routines, multi-balls practices, footwork, balance, speed training, in addition to assisting players and individual basis and organises special matches were organised”, added Aleksey Yefremov. “Four education sessions for coaches and parents plus two for players were held in the evening, on each occasion from 6.45pm to 8.15pm.”

Furthermore, there was a comprehensive evaluation of each player completed on the concluding day.
“An objective of the Hopes Week is talent Identification; this helps young African players prepare not only for the Northern Africa Hopes Challenge but also for future events in their clubs, countries and cities.”

Throughout, there was a focus was on coach education, the discussions proving most productive. In addition a spirit of friendship and team spirit was built as players from different countries practised together.

“Personally, I was very pleased to welcome six young player from Libya, a country that is suffering from the ravages of war”, stressed Aleksey Yefremov. “My thanks to the incredible efforts of coaches, parents and players who made it possible for these players to attend the last two days of the Training Camp and the Hopes Challenge.”

Undoubtedly, it was a memorable experience for all; none more so than for Aleksey Yefremov.

“Egypt came with the best under 12 boys and girls; there was intense competition between them”, explained Aleksey Yefremov. “Both from Egypt, Mohamed Sameh and Souheila Medhit won the respective Boys’ Singles and Girls’ Singles events, they will qualify for the ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge.”

The event will be staged in Qatar later this year from Sunday 29th May to May 29 to Saturday 4th June.

“Think Globally, Act Locally; it is the very apt motto used by many national associations; for Hopes initiatives”, concluded Aleksey Yefremov.

Words to remember; no doubt they are ringing in the ears of all who visited Tunisia; an educational and unifying event was experienced.

Culled from