THE quest for Caribbean Junior table tennis glory gets underway this Friday and ends next Wednesday, with Jamaica hosting the Pre-Cadet Under-11 and Under-13 Championships.
The seventh annual event, to be hosted by the Jamaica Table Tennis Association (JTTA) for the first time, is expected to attract over 100 youngsters from the Caribbean.
The six-day event will have Quest Security Services as the main sponsor, with associate sponsors being Hi-Lyte Sport Drink, Klas FM, Catherine's Peak and JUTC in what should be an exciting affair at the UWI Bowl.
JTTA president Joseph Dibbs said this tournament is a small step towards the fulfilment of two main goals in the coming years.
"It's all about developing the young athletes. Our goals are to have a Jamaican qualifying for the Olympics in Brazil in 2016, and by 2022 to have Jamaica competing in the first group of the World Championships," said Dibbs, who is also managing director of Quest Security Services.
"When you look at where we are with these young players, they are the ones that will be competing, so we have to make investments," he added.
Meanwhile, Julette Fox-Hosang, Hi-Lyte Sport Drink's brand manager, was pleased to be the hydration sponsor of the event.
"Hi-Lyte Sport Drink is pleased to be the hydration sponsor of this table tennis event. Hydration is very important in any athletic arena and Hi-Lyte is made right here in Jamaica and we are proud to be part of this international event," said Fox-Hosang.
The tournament will also be broadcast live on Klas FM Radio, and sportscaster Sean Grant highlighted his station's elation in playing their part.
Said Grant: "KLAS Sports FM 89 is happy to be a part of this venture, which is the first time in Jamaica, and KLAS and sports are synonymous."
In terms of moving forward, Dibbs strongly believes Jamaica is moving in the right direction and said a Swedish coach will be coming to the island in September or October to assist both players and coaches.
"Also, through GC Foster (College) and the Government, a Chinese coach will also be coming to get our coaching skills to the highest international level," said Dibbs.
The various delegations are scheduled to arrive on Friday and there will be a technical meeting, which includes the draw for the team competition, at 8:00 pm.
The team events start on Saturday at 9:00 am, while there will be the Opening Ceremony at 6:00 pm. The team events should be completed on Sunday morning, with the doubles events serving off at 3:00 pm.
Monday will see the start of the singles preliminary stages, with the final stage set for the following day.