The World Hopes Week 2013 by the ITTF was a superb event, again hosted by the inaugural Werner Schlager Academy which is the pinnacle training center in Europe. With 60 kids participating from 30 different countries all aged 11 and 12 years old, this really is the start of a long road for some of the world’s emerging talent. I was lucky enough to be there as the coach for 2 players from New Zealand and it will be a week forever embedded in my memories, for the experience, what I observed and what I learned.
First off I have to comment on how extraordinary the WSA is as a venue and training centre. The floor, tables and coaching staff are of the highest quality, the centre is air conditioned and has an incredibly tidy and professional look, housing 25 tables in total. The kids started with a 4 day training camp hosted by the likes of Richard Prause, Dirk Wagner, Mikael Habesohn, Mario Amizic, Tamara Boros, Aya Umemura and other top level coaches. To add to that wealth of experience was reputable Chinese coach Li Xiaodong and of course Werner Schlager himself. It was fantastic to see such talented kids from all around the world having this unique opportunity. Of course the ITTF had also arranged workshops for the coaches to attend and gain more knowledge from experienced figures like Schlager and Li along with others.
The competition was fantastic, it is clear that some of these players are going to develop to be great international players in the future and I think for me that was one of the coolest parts of the experience, in that perhaps in a decade’s time I might be seeing these kids again in a very different capacity, perhaps their own senior national champions or continental champs, maybe even top 10 in the world. Who knows, the potential is endless.
I spent some time with Werner Schlager observing his coaching method, I think his sheer analytical strengths really show how he achieved his win of the 2003 WTTC. His attention to detail in mechanics and problem solving are very impressive. I also had the chance to speak to him each day, share a table with him at lunch. To have the chance to be so close to a legend of the sport was amazing and something I hope to repeat with many other players I have had the privilege of interviewing for my table tennis blog.
For now I return to little New Zealand, having successfully had our NZ boy Yanglun Zhao selected for the World Hopes Team, a superb effort on his part and opening a doorway to many more opportunities for his development. An event I won’t soon forget, ITTF Hopes Week is a groundbreaking initiative for ITTF Development and one I hope they will continue to improve and deliver for the future of our sport!
About the author:
This was a guest post by Matt Hetherington. Matt (just like Uberpong founder David Lowe) was born in Blackpool, England. He then moved to New Zealand. He loves the sport and his involvement has ranged from playing, coaching (he is ITTF Level 1 certified), Administrating (he has been a regional selector and Chairman of a Regional Table Tennis Association and a Development Officer), Blogging and Writing and of course Publicizing (he has been Publicity Officer at 2 NZ Open Championships in both the last 2 years). His involvement will never stop and he is looking to take things higher and higher! He is known as “PingPongPom“, moderator on Table Tennis Daily and is also a part time writer working for the Table Tennis Master social network. Learn more about him and visit his blog here: www.mhtabletennis.com