Tahiti Table Tennis Success

In 1993, one of the largest islands in French Polynesia – Tahiti – became a member of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Since that time, the Tahiti Table Tennis Federation (TTTF) has been working hard towards table tennis development. They started to develop table tennis clubs all over the island of Tahiti by putting table tennis tables in schools and opening as many new clubs as possible.

During this time Tahiti TTF had its ups and downs. We spoke to Alize Belrose, Executive Director of Tahiti TTF, who said; “When I returned to Tahiti from my studies in Toulouse in December 2016, there were only three clubs left and less than 40 members.”

Alize and the TTTF decided to improve the situation of the federation and tried to understand why locals stopped being interested in table tennis.

He raised a few questions and tried to answer them:

  • Why was there a negative change when Tahiti won all the gold medals at the Pacific Games in 2015?
  • How can we increase the interest in table tennis and improve the existing situation?

Once he found the answers to those questions, Alize took some action, trying to attract more young kids and adults to be interested in table tennis. He started by setting up table tennis tables everywhere and creating a community where people would be happy to play and feel at home. In the meantime, they also developed table tennis in the islands through inter-island competitions and re-created the French Polynesia championship.

For the past few years, the Tahiti TTF has successfully promoted and grown table tennis. Alize said that without the help of the Tahiti people and the benevolence of everyone towards the other members of the federation, they wouldn’t be where they are right now.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for the next three to five months Tahiti TTF has a lot of events planned. Almost every weekend they are holding an event, where Défense Contre l’Alcoolisme DCA (defense against alcoholism) Raiatea table tennis club organises a competition to allow the club’s youngsters to put into practice the skills gained during the training week. They believe that the more activities there are, the more people will be interested in table tennis.

Tahiti TTF is excited about 2022 since they have so many activities and competitions coming up, such as:

  • The Corporation Cup, which will start in March and will be ongoing for seven Fridays. Every Friday before the event, all the participants will be able to play the various games at ‘Ping Party’ and meet other corporates.
  • A table tennis camp for the players who play for fitness, and also for young, prospective players who can join the camp to deepen their skills.
  • The TOP 12, Tahiti Championships, and Criterium.

There will also be other events in each archipelago.  From now on one of the most important competitions will be held in Tahaa; The Memorial of Robert Mouphas. This competition is to honour one of the most respected table tennis coaches in Polynesia, who passed away in 2021. From 2022, Tahiti TTF will try its best to bring as many players as possible to Tahaaa every year and also to encourage the other islands to come over and compete at the Tamarii Uporu club. The memorial competition will take place from April 15 to 18, 2022. The expectations for this competition are enormous, including over 80 players participating (a lot for Taha’a island).

Currently Tahiti TTF have 15 clubs across Tahiti island. When asked what their goals are in 2022, Executive Director, Alize Belrose, shares the projects and programs they have planned for 2022:

  • Ping Garden project: detection project, starting with very young players to build to a better performance program.
  • Performance program: travel at least three times internationally to prepare the athletes for the Pacific Games in 2023 (Oceania and France Championships).
  • Outdoor program: develop table tennis outdoors with various competitions and events.
  • Create new clubs: help the clubs to get funding for new inventory and help with the structure.
  • Island program: assist all clubs in each archipelago with selections to participate at the French Polynesia Championship.
  • Corporation program: to involve more companies that want to play table tennis and prepare for the competition.
  • Coaching program: with the help of the French Table Tennis Federation, find a way to give a professional diploma to table tennis coaches (108 hours of theory and 90 hours of coaching).

ITTF-Oceania would like to say thank you to the Tahiti TTF for making an enormous difference in table tennis on Tahiti island. We are excited about the upcoming events and look forward to seeing the continued growth of table tennis.

Article adapted from ITTF-Oceania website.