Great move SVGTTA
The efforts of the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Table Tennis Association (SVGTTA), under the headship of Orville Haslam, to stage the inaugural OECS secondary schools’ Champion of Champions’ tournament, must be lauded.
Commendation must be given as well to those who had convinced all the stakeholders and the two countries which responded to the invitation, to take part.
Unfortunately, Antigua and Barbuda, which had initially given commitment to be a participant, opted out, despite the overtures to have a representative team here.
The reality was that there were three days of table tennis, as players from St Lucia, Grenada and host St Vincent and the Grenadines were fully engaged at the auditorium of the West St George Secondary School, over that period.
Whilst it was only three countries which contested the event, it must be deemed a success, as it, more than anything else, moved from an idea to actual fruition.
The three days produced some excellent table tennis, which showed that the respective participating countries actually put in some preparatory work for the occasion.
Added, the event gave the various coaches a gauge of where their players are, with respect to their counterparts.
It was also heartening to see the camaraderie among the young players who readily formed bonds of friendship, despite competing for honours, and in most cases, meeting one another for the first time.
The tournament thus provided each of the participating territories with an insight of their young table tennis stock, as the players who competed were under the age of 16.
For St Vincent and the Grenadines, it showed where much of the focus has to be, as most of the proven players are past their best, hence investment in the youths should be priority.
So, for the likes of Akeil De Roche who emerged as the male singles champion, much energy and resources must be expended on him and the other prospects.
More so, coming out of the tournament, one is hopeful that St Vincent and the Grenadines’ table tennis prosper, likewise the others who were part of the inaugural edition.
What the tournament has also done, was to revived what had existed many years ago, when the sub-region had vibrant competitions among the various sporting disciplines.
This was when though, there was a functioning OECS Sports Desk, which was responsible for the execution of various competitions.
At present, save and except for squash and swimming, there are no fixed competitions among the OECS islands in the other sports.
So the SVGTTA has in its own way, added on another discipline, albeit at the school level.
Furthermore, the SVGTTA has been able to create a possibility for others to take notice, as for many years that has been a resistance to have table tennis included as a discipline in the annual Windward Islands Schools’ Games.
Therefore, if the brick wall remains, then the other territories now have a blue print for establishing their own tournament.
This tournament, once fully established could act as a real indicator for the technical personnel of the sub-regional territories, to assess their players’ status in a quest to transition to the wider Caribbean championships.
The process therefore has to be moved forward in order to get the other territories in the sub-region to get involved the exercise.
They must, in their space, promote the tournament as a worthwhile outing and put the necessary measures in place to ensure its continuity.
The initiative of the SVGTTA to have such a schools’ Champion of Champions’ tournament follows a similar pathway, as what obtained last year, when the champion school netball team and the runners up, squared off in Jamaica to see which country’s netball at the schools level, was the best in the region.
Now that the stage has been set and the fact that we are seeing that such events are doable, the next best move is to build on them and hopefully other sporting disciplines will follow suit.
Our various areas of sports need this type of interaction; this type of regional development, the manner in which the social and economic landscape is unfolding, we have to fashion our own mechanisms as a conduit to launch further afield.