November 16, 2021

The International Table Tennis Federation Virtual Mentorship Program was launched in August and the mentors have been supporting promising and talented coaches and umpires in the Oceania region over the past few months. Umpires and coaches play a vital role in the running and development of the sport. As an official, the umpire is responsible for enforcing the rules and at times making difficult calls during high pressure situations at competitions. The role of coaches is increasingly under the spotlight for their performance and effectiveness. The ITTF Virtual Mentorship Program is designed to enhance their technical knowledge as well as to provide support as the mentor will have an understanding of the demands and pressures, as well as the excitement and successes which they encounter. The program is supported through the International Table Tennis Federation High Performance Development program.

There are 8 coaches and 1 umpire from the Oceania region who have been selected and provided the opportunity to develop their skills through the mentorships program, all have been paired with skilled mentors. The mentees selected are from six different countries including Fiji, Tonga, Guam, Tahiti, Australia and New Zealand.

The program includes regular online sessions along with relevant monthly assignments. Each month focuses on various key areas of their development to provide them with specific knowledge and skills. The mentorship allows for individualised topics of interest and areas to be explored between mentee and mentor. Each mentor works with two mentees. The program in Oceania also uses French speaking mentors to allow for valuable learning experience for mentees of our French speaking nations.

The mentors include highly skilled regional coaches with vast international experience, as well as international mentors. Eva Jeler, a world class international coach has been paired with Albert Cheng (NZL) and Franck Roguiez (AUS). Jeler is currently the National Coach – Performance Pathway (Able-Bodied) for Table Tennis Australia. Prior to her appointment she had initially announced her retirement after working in various capacities, including Head Coach for the German Table Tennis Federation for 37 years. As one of the world’s leading coaches, her knowledge and experience was very much appreciated. “I had interesting conversations with Eva, ranging from core control, technical aspects of footwork to junior development training plans and preparation for competition. I was able to implement and experiment with new drills shared by Eva and I had pleasantly surprising results with the junior players I am working with.” – Albert.

Similarly, the guidance and support has been greatly appreciated by the Pacific mentees. “The mentorship has been a good opportunity for me to increase my technical and tactical knowledge. One of the key areas has been around improving my technical knowledge in receiving service and being able to coach better in this area. I look forward to being able to deliver new ways of coaching to my players. Thank you to all the mentors.” – Harvi Yee, Fiji mentee.

It is evident already, that the mentees are gaining valuable skills and experiences that will undoubtedly help in improving the quality of coaching and umpiring in Oceania. It is hoped this program is here to stay, in 2022 and beyond, so that more member associations and individuals can benefit from it.