MUSCAT, Feb 28 –
Last seven months have been a remarkable period for Oman table tennis.
The Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC) successfully hosted three big-ticket tournaments during the period starting from Arab Table Tennis Championship in August and in December Oman hosted an Open international event and recently topped it all with Oman Junior and Cadet Open — ITTF Premium championship.
The OTTC was set up in 2014 and they had to start it from the scratch.
“There was nothing when we started operation in 2014. But we were determined to arrange all the basic facilities for the game soon. We started with the clubs and by providing TT tables,” OTTC Chairman Abdullah Mohammed Bamakhalef said.
“Now we have 25 umpires with good presence of women umpires and five among them have international licence,” Bamakhalef, who is also the vice-chairman of Arab Table Tennis Union, said.
Sixteen Oman umpires also officiated in the Oman Junior and Cadet Open.
The OTTC chief told Oman Daily Observer that the Sultanate has proved its potential by hosting the three big tournaments.
“It was indeed a proud moment when we hosted the Oman Junior and Cadet Open — ITTF Premium championship which saw a participation of 19 countries.”
TT giants China, India, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Greece, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sweden, Lebanon, Scotland, Syria, Thailand, Yemen, the Philippines and the Sultanate competed in the $8,000 prize money tournament held from February 7 to 11.
The ranking tournament of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) saw 114 junior players from all the continents, nearly 50 coaches and same number of administrative staff arrive in Muscat.
The feedback from the parents and coaches of the participating countries was really satisfying for us, said Sajjad Baqir al Lawati, Vice-Chairman of the Organising Committee.
“It was intense moments for us. We are happy that with the support of our sponsors and sports enthusiasts, the OTTC was able to hold a memorable event.”
“Especially, it was great to get some positive feedback from the parents and coaches from the visiting countries.”
Nils-Erik Sandberg, Swede coach, had written to Sajjad appreciating the OTTC’s efforts in hosting the event and arranging the facilities for the players and support staff.
Competing against the best in the world, couple of Omani boys impressed at the ITTF event.
Ten-year-old Ahmed al Riyami delivered a positive result for the hosts when he edged out Qatar’s Yousof Aly in a full distance five games contest (11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6) in the group stage of the Hopes Boys’ Singles event.
Oman’s Moayd al Mutawa, 9, was the youngest player on duty at the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Oman head coach Mohammed Atoum was confident that the big tournaments will make a positive impact on the local players.
“We are progressing step by step and these tournaments will do a world of good for Omani players.”
The ingredients are in place and Oman TT is eyeing further glory with an ITTF World Tour tournament very much in sights for the next year.