Oman may host biggest ever TT event in 2022

Muscat, Feb 10 – If all goes well, Oman Table Tennis Committee may stage a huge event in 2022, an event that will be the biggest the Sultanate will have ever seen, coupling up as a revenue generator for the country as well, according to Sajjad Baqir al Lawati, tournament director for the 2018 Oman Junior & Cadet Open ITTF Premium tournament.  As the event winds its way to the end, Sajjad Baqir is a satisfied man and reveals a few things about his plans for Oman table tennis. “Well, nothing is confirmed as of now. It is just in the pipeline, but let me tell you it is a huge tournament and a very big event. It will be a big jump for Oman as a nation and not just table tennis. Right now, we are making presentations and we have to plan a lot and talk to people,’’ he added.
Sajjad stated the government and the other stakeholders that he is in talks with are quite excited about the proposal, although it is at a very early stage. “The presentations are ready and we are talking to the government and company owners. They are excited for sure. We are all working together, so let’s pray it falls into place,’’ Sajjad said. Talking about the ongoing Oman Junior & Cadet Open, Sajjad said it is great for Omani players that some of the ranking players from China and India are competing. “Whenever there is tournament from ITTF, you will have the best players competing and so we have some of the ranking players from China and India here.
This will be a great opportunity for our players to gain the much needed experience. They all have one or two years of experience at the most.
The level of experience will be different. We cannot say that we are not in that level, because that will take some time. This is the second tournament for them. Last time, they got a silver and bronze at the last Arab championships,’’ Sajjad explained.
Sajjad also said Oman has a good chance of clinching a spot as one among the 12 legs of the World Senior League TT. “We cannot talk about it right now, since we are only bidding now. We have forwarded our bid and there are 16 bidders for 12 legs. But, we have a very good chance since the ITTF is impressed with our facilities and I am getting a positive feedback,’’ Sajjad added.
“Chances of Oman is there. ITTF is trusting us and they have the confidence in us. Our weather in winter is good and the venue hall is at the world level. And safety and security is good in our case.
“We are getting good, positive feedback from ITTF. We have implemented the criteria. For example, the floors… the training hall floor and the venue floor should be exactly the same and the tables should be the same. We have done all those things as per ITTF requirements,’’ he added.
Sajjad was happy about the way things have gone in the Oman Junior & Cadet Open.
“This is the biggest tournament that we are doing in 2018. In the previous tournament, we had 8 to 9 countries. Here it is 19,’’ he said.
Sajjad said the Omani players are now getting a lot of exposure in terms of events and camps, especially in the last two years.
“Last year it was a wonderful year for Oman table tennis, we participated in the Asian Cup in China, then we participated in the World Cup in Germany, at Dusseldorf, that is our senior players. We also went to China for a two week camp, we participated in the Arab event in August. We participated in the OFC tournament in November and now this event,’’ Sajjad added.
Sajjad said there are some promising Omani players and they would benefit immensely from this tournament. “Ayman al Balushi and Ahmed al Riyami are good and ofcourse some of our senior and U-20 players like Haitham and Asad Raisi,’’ Sajjad concluded.
These are indeed interesting times for Oman table tennis.

Haridev Pushparaj