Barbados will play host to a world-class table tennis tournament later this year, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth is throwing its support behind the participants.
Minister Stephen Lashley made this clear this morning at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Cadet Challenge Barbados press briefing, which was held at the Barbados Olympic Association in Wildey, St. Michael.
???The hosting of this tournament in Barbados will, undoubtedly, go a long way towards safeguarding the legacy of table tennis in Barbados, as I believe it would serve to heighten the interest in the sport, especially among our youth and, certainly, within our schools.
???It is my understanding that the top players from around the world are expected to converge on Barbados for this tournament, including a specially selected top ranked coach for the junior team. Exposure such as this at such a high level of competition, in my view, [will] only redound to enhancing the standing of table tennis in Barbados, as our young players strive for excellence,??? he affirmed.
Although the competition, which will feature eight team members from Barbados ??? four boys and four girls, will be a challenging one, the Minister said he was confident that they were up to the task, with players said to be undergoing rigorous preparation for the tournament, which will be hosted from October 23 to November 1, this year.
Expressing agreement, President of the Barbados Table Tennis Association, Ray Jackman, added that the event, featuring competitors ages 15 and under from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and Latin America, would also teach participants about humility and team work. He added that the players would gain an invaluable lesson through the discipline of training and the sacrifices that would have to be made to succeed.
ITTF Competition Manager, Raul Calin, explained that this was the first time the competition, which has been hosted in locations such as Portugal, Japan and South Africa, had made its way to the English-speaking Caribbean. He assured Barbadians and visitors alike that they could look forward to a lively tournament, including live internet feeds of the finals.
???I???m really happy to see that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth [is involved], because that is exactly what we are bringing together in October??? We have a cultural day where the kids will experience Barbados. So when they go back home and they [are asked] in school, ???Where were you last week???? They won???t just say I was in a sports hall and I was in a hotel, they can explain a bit about Barbados,??? he added.
The ITTF features 218 member countries worldwide and the World Cadet Challenge was started in 2002. It is expected that the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Cadet Challenge Barbados, which also features a four-day training camp for the teams, will welcome some 100 young athletes from around the world.