As long as the President of ITTF Africa, Khaled El-Salhy is satisfied with African countries hosting major international competitions like the World Junior Championships and World Cadet Challenge, he is also optimistic that the teams from the continent will make meaningful impact when the 2016 World Junior Championships serve off in Cape Town, South Africa on November 30.
From 2006, Africa had hosted several international competitions and with South Africa receiving players across the world for this year’s World Juniors, the ITTF Africa helmsman believes as usual the hospitality of the continent would come to fore in Cape Town.
“Africa hosted many World title events within the recent years as follows (2006 World Juniors Champ. In Cairo, 2007 World Cadet Challenge in Cape Town, 2013 World Juniors Champ. In Rabat, 2015 World Cadet Challenge in Sharm El-Sheikh, then finally this year 2016 World Juniors to be held in Cape Town). This means a lot to ATTF in-spite that ITTF is putting strict conditions for the host to such World title events to ensure the top professional organization and TV live coverage, thus this is a real sign that Africa stands on the same level of hosting major table tennis events successfully like Europe and Asia. Also the continent had organised many ITTF Sanctioned events in the last one decade (World Tour events in Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria), also (Junior Circuit events in Algeria, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia),” he said.
He blames the inability of some African countries to feature in major competitions on visa hitches. “Sometimes the challenge for African countries has been identified as visa problems or financial difficulties to prevent a qualified African team to take part, while ATTF is trying always to push and help our qualifying teams to show-up. But I am so happy that in the two previous WJTTC that were held in Africa (Egypt & Morocco), it was the only two cases that all qualifying teams including three teams from Africa plus the host made it to the competitions,” he lamented.
On his expectations from African teams, he said: “Unfortunately Tunisia will not have a chance to come due to financial reasons, thus we will have Egypt (boys and girls teams), Nigeria (boys and girls teams) and Algeria (girls’ team) plus South Africa (boys and girls teams). I wish to see some top African players in the main draw as far as possible especially Youssef Abdel-Aziz from Egypt and Esther Oribamise from Nigeria.”
Aware of the what the host nation can do, the ITTF Africa boss: “I am so sure that it will be one of the top organisation in WJTTC events due to the great experience of the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB).
He however, believes the performance of players like Aruna Quadri at the Olympic Games has put the continent on global media attention in the last two years, while hoping that the junior players would be inspire by this and aim for the top in Cape Town. “African players have a very big reputation recently due to the super results of our top players (i.e. Aruna Quadri in Rio and World Cup) and I am so eager to get more top players from Africa in the coming years to make it to the podium of World title events.”