September 9, 2020

A new generation of Australian Hopes players, selected for 2020, are pushing their goals by digital means after Table Tennis Australia took the program online.

With pandemic restrictions preventing many in-person table tennis activities, including the handful of Hopes training camps during the year, TTA began to utilise digital solutions to keep the program on track.

One of the many educational video call sessions as part of the online programme

“What started out as a way to keep the players engaged through online sessions has now materialised into what will remain part of the Hopes program going forward,” says TTA National Head Coach, John Murphy. “A challenge in Australia has always been the geographical challenges, remote coaching has now become the solution and a critical element in bringing together players from the different states.”

Not only has the program pushed forward online, with regular video calls, it has also included a handful of inspirational figures from the highest levels of table tennis in the Oceania Region.

So far a number of Australia’s best have joined the calls to share their experiences with the young Hopes talents including the ever-inspiring Olympian and Paralympian Melissa Tapper, the highly dedicated Olympian and National Champion Heming Hu, the seasoned Olympian David Powell, Olympic newcomer Michelle Bromley for Tokyo 2021 and Women’ National Champion Minhyung Jee. Each a motivating character, and each with a unique background and lessons to be taught to their young and rising peers.

Not only providing an excellent online program for their own players, but they have graciously extended their support by collaborating with ITTF-Oceania to allow and integrate Oceania Hopes players and coaches to be involved in the sessions. This provides a unique opportunity, particularly for the island nations, to be a part of a structured program with high level coaches and a unique learning environment.

ITTF-Oceania High Performance and Development Manager, Jessica Macaskill, had plenty of positive things to say about TTA’s innovative solutions.

“The Hopes Programs are a pivotal part of paving the way for future success in the Oceania Region, we applaud TTA’s efforts to find solutions to keep moving towards keeping these young players moving towards their goals during this difficult time and look forward to seeing their continued success. It has been encouraging to see top Oceania players investing in future generations by taking time to share their knowledge and experience.”

So far the digital tools have been in place for 16-18 weeks and the TTA coaching staff have been pleased with the results, so much so that the remote coaching and team activities will be integrated as a longer term addition.

Head Coach Murphy also identified the expansion of the program responsibilities as a means to support, not only the players, but also to identify coaches to involve further in TTA High Performance. As such, Queensland’s Franck Roguiez has taken a lead role with the program as National Hopes Coordinator alongside Murphy and TTA Performance Pathway Manager, Simon Gerada.

Gerada pinpoints the importance of the Hopes Program in the pathway to creating top level athletes as a significant foundation.

“The National performance pathway and the concept of a what it takes to win at an international level has been a key component of our work to date, with the introduction and success of the Hopes program under the very difficult circumstances we face around the world has been pleasing but will surely become the foundation of the overall pathway to the highest level benchmarks,” remarks Gerada.

Overall it’s looking positive for the future of Oceania and Australian Table Tennis as the Hopes talents continue to work hard and the team unity goes from strength to strength across the region through this challenging period of time. We look forward to seeing what these young players can achieve as the program continues to develop and improve further.

ITTF-Oceania extends its sincerest thanks to Table Tennis Australia for expanding it’s resources and program to help the development of Hopes players and coaches from all over Oceania.

More information on the program can be found here:
Table Tennis Australia Hopes Program Info Flyer