Located in the North Island of New Zealand, the home for the 2014 World Veteran Championships; more recently Auckland hosted an ITTF-Oceania Para Training Camp. Proceedings commenced on Monday 12th December and concluded on Sunday 18th December.
The overall itinerary consisted of a two day PTT Level One Coaches Course, followed by a three day Training Camp and on the concluding two days, participation in the New Zealand Para Open Championships.
Funded by the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee, ITTF-Oceania and the Smash Down Barriers Programme, 28 players from eight countries in the continent participated; the countries in question being Australia, Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.
The Coaches Course was led by Christian Holtz, the ITTF-Oceania Para Development Officer; a notable fact being that a high number of course members suffered from a disability.
Undoubtedly, Norby Ocampo was the student to attract the attention. He travelled more than 25 hours from Guam and relished the opportunity to learn new ideas; he departed Auckland highly motivated and most determined to promote the cause of Para table tennis in Guam.
A successful course completed, next on the agenda was the three day Training Camp; Australia’s Alois Rosario, the man who had guided compatriot Samuel Von Einem to silver in Men’s Singles Class 11 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, being the man at the helm of proceedings.
Devising training programmes to meet individual needs was the underlying theme; the camp not only providing an opportunity for players to hone their skills, it was also a chance for the course members to put theory into practice.
Players shared experiences; there was a common bond, a feeling of harmony and understanding which created unity. Iakoba Taberanibou from Fiji, the focal point in the film from Shame to Fame, was just one member who endorsed the view.
The aim of the Training Camp was to boost to the development of Para Table Tennis in Oceania. Notably, greater numbers competing in Oceania Para Championships in 2017 and 2019 is a major objective; the more long-term goal being to increase the region’s representation in Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Also, there was an added bonus. Stag International reached an agreement with ITTF-Oceania to sponsor one regional Para Table Tennis camp per year until 2020.
Thus once again the Stag International underlined its commitment to Oceania and especially the development of para table tennis in the region; another step forward had been made, a most significant step.