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Inclusive, popular and universal: It's World Table Tennis Day!

Copyrights: ITTF Foundation

Inclusive, popular and universal: It's World Table Tennis Day!

What does it mean to ensure the participation of youth and children in sports for social programmes?

Young people everywhere are full of hope that their voices are heard by those who make decisions and those who influence the decision makers. It is the way life has always worked, but I dare to say - that things have changed. Young people and children now make up the largest global population. No longer can we design sports for development and peace programmes without the participation of these groups; they are the major stakeholders.

Simple as it sounds, it is not always clear to see. So what does ensuring the participation of youth and children in sports for social change programmes mean? What does it look like? 

Is it having youth-led initiatives? Is it ensuring sustainability? Is it bridging the skills gap? The recognition of sport as an enabler of sustainable development in the Vision 2030 agenda has provided a great opportunity for sport and its evolution. One of those evolutions is happening in table tennis. This year, World Table Tennis Day has recorded an astounding 864 events in 105 countries! And for the first time ever, the celebrations have been brought to the African continent - to Uganda. Organised by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Foundation, World Table Tennis Day is a day to celebrate the popularity, inclusiveness and universality of the sport in bringing people in solidarity, everywhere. A huge part of this is making TT accessible to a diverse and broad public, particularly focusing on minority groups. 

One of the most important ways to strengthen sport policy is to prioritise national sport-related objectives and to ensure coordinated and coherent implementation of set priorities. Working with national sporting organisations, civil society and both public and private stakeholders to identify and extinguish constraints and to facilitate ownership is crucial. In three out of the seven schools that the ITTF Foundation is supporting  in rural and urban Uganda, there are over 50 children with disabilities who regularly participate in the game. It is a sight to behold, especially if it ever crosses your mind that people with disabilities cannot live a fulfilling life and set out to achieve their dreams. You should meet Ibrahim Hamadtou, a Paralympic table tennis player who can keep the ball rolling for more than three minutes! Ibrahim's visit to Uganda has inspired, amazed and empowered so many children and persons with disabilities, furthering one of the SDG objectives of reducing inequalities by empowering and promoting the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. 

These initiatives are local, youth-led and they bring TT skills to more new people each year. How will they remain sustainable? That is all up to you! YOU, young person striving to be a change maker in SDP, YOU, decision maker responsible to ensure youth-responsive policies and YOU, global stakeholders responsible for the integrity, equality, inclusiveness and diversity of sports and SDP initiatives. 

"The importance of aligning policies that enable sport to contribute to sustainable development with co-ordinated efforts to protect and promote the integrity of sport has been recognised through both the 8th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting and the 6th International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport." - Commonwealth Secretariat.

Table tennis is not just an important sport to play, but also to share your experiences with those around you, with the children. This is our future." - Ibrahim Hamadtou.

 

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Article type

News

Author

Jacqueline Njeri

Published

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 14:32