Community Table Tennis programme helps students explore potential in sport
Although his siblings’ participation in PSD’s programs motivated him to start playing with his friends in the neighbourhood, he felt it was without the required guidance and support.
This changed when he joined the CTT program, as for the first ever time in his life, Abdul had the chance to play a game with proper equipment, facilities, and coaching support.
The programme has provided pathways for young people to access the sport on an equal footing through the introduction of table tennis in four community schools in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Abdul has grown exponentially in his journey within the CTT programme.
PSD organised two table tennis tournaments in July 2022 and January 2023. Abdul participated in both tournaments, finishing second and first respectively.
He values the exposure received from the tournaments as they allowed him to interact with other young people and gain new insights into the game.
With the help of meaningful feedback sessions post tournaments, he has also been able to learn about the execution of each skill during the game, as he says: “The first time when the tournament was held, my counter was not as good. In the recent tournament, I learned how to counter properly and was able to win the tournament.”
Having gained such exposure through the CTT program, Abdul has been able to make great strides in his personal growth as well.
Excelling in table tennis has also helped him transform physically as he now feels more active and energetic, which has led to an increase in his contribution to domestic chores. His mother, Shainaj Begum, has also observed this change and attributes it to the gender sensitivity sessions conducted as a part of CTT.
Abdul personally felt that his attitude towards girls changed for the better, as he found himself being more open with them and converse more freely as opposed to the situation prior, when interaction between boys and girls was minimal.
The sessions on gender allowed him to understand that there is no difference between boys and girls, further realising that discrimination stemming from this difference is a mere social construct.
This newfound awareness prompted Abdul to view his female peers as equals, fostering a genuine anticipation of daily interactions and activities with them.
Notably, Abdul not only recognised this change within himself but also identified a similar inclusive shift among his peers, with their attitudes becoming more accepting and accommodating than ever before.
Having discovered the transformative powers of sport, Abdul aspires to impart the knowledge of table tennis to other young people like him, hoping that they get to benefit similarly.
He hopes to continue playing with his peers in the community for some time and gradually move on to helping them build knowledge on the game of table tennis. Abdul desires to see the impact sport has had on him replicated in others. He wants to pass the baton to the young people living in his community to further bring a difference in society.
The Community Table Tennis program is a collaborative effort between Pro Sport Development (PSD) and the ITTF Foundation to increase access to sport for young people and utilise table tennis as a tool to promote gender equality by supporting the holistic development of boys and girls from marginalised sections in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The two-year program, which took place from 2021- 23 was supported by ITTF Foundation.