Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC) chairman Abdullah Ba Mukhalef stated hosting top international table tennis events was a demonstration of Oman’s credentials as a competent host.
Ba Mukhalef made the comments on the opening day of the 2019 ITTF World Junior Circuit Premium Oman Cadet and Junior Open at the indoor stadium of the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Ba Mukhalef felt Oman was now looked upon as a prominent international table tennis venue by the fraternity.
“We are very glad to start this kind of tournament in the Sultanate to show all communities in Oman and the international fraternity that we are hosting quality events,’’ he added.
Ba Mukhalef also dwelt upon the tourism potential of events such as the current one.
“It is also a good platform for tourism related activities for people from outside to come and explore Oman as well,’’ he added.
Ba Mukhalef was happy with the conduct of international events in Oman in recent times.
“I also feel that Oman has become very competent of hosting these kind of tournaments. We hosted Challenge Plus tournament in March.
“We are happy with the organisation of events. Last July, ITTF event comprising players from all continents was held. It was in Salalah and it was very successful.
All these events also show the importance of marketing table tennis to a wider audience,’’ the chairman said.
Ba Mukhalef also revealed that international players visiting Oman had given him a very positive feedback about their impression.
“Now, Muscat is very well known to all players around the world. They are aware of the excellent organisation of events here and in the future we will host Challenge Plus in next March. Some very professional players will come here. Some players will camp here before the World Championships in South Korea. European players would prefer to stay back here, rest and practise here before going to South Korea,’’ Ba Mukhalef explained.
Talking about OTTC’s plans for the future, he said they will move forward with their ideas.
“For future, we will try to host high-level events like Platinum tournaments. In 2022, we will have World Veterans Championship. Around 5,000 players from around the world will be here,’’ he added.
Ba Mukhalef also had some plans for the cadet and junior Omani players in this event.
“Our aim is to focus on this age. We hope to have training centres for under-12 paddlers around Oman,’’ he stated.
Ba Mukhalef also said they will try their best in the future to rope in some big star players.
“We are trying to attract high level players. We will see what we can do, because we need that attention,’’ the chairman said.
hopeful yet realistic
Oman national table tennis coach Mohammad Atoum felt the Oman Cadet and Junior Open will be a tough event for the Omani paddlers and a sort of learning curve.
“It is a really high level tournament. The top players from several countries are in the fray and it will be tough tournament. France, Italy, Singapore are all tough teams. Iran has some good players. A total of 17 countries are participating including Oman,’’ Atoum said.
Atoum felt it will be tough for Omani players to go very far in the tournament with such high quality players. However, he expected them to qualify through the group in teams and singles categories.
“Oman has 13 players in cadet, junior and mini. We are playing against some really good teams and it will be a good learning experience for our players,’’ the Oman coach added.