THE newly elected board of the Jamaica Table Tennis Association (JTTA) launched a two-year strategic plan that is aimed at repositioning table tennis as one of the nation's premier sporting disciplines.
JTTA President Godfrey Lothian made the announcement and outlined a detailed breakdown of how his Administration plans to carry out the new initiatives, at a press conference at the INSPORTS Conference Room, Independence Park, in Kingston yesterday.
Among the plans outlined by Lothian is the crafting of a programme that is specifically geared to at least having one table tennis player represent Jamaica at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Three major events are earmarked for the coming months, with the National Table Tennis Championship to be held on April 27, the Jamaica Table Tennis Classic in August, and a Table Tennis Conference to be held in November.
"We are on a mission to bring back the ping-pong days," Lothian declared. "We will construct concrete tables at various strategic locations in communities throughout Jamaica to make the sport available to all. Two are already placed at Emancipation Park where people can be seen playing for fun, entertainment and for just plain working up a sweat. For this, I must heartily congratulate the past Administration for placing those two tables there.
"Indoor professional table tennis tables will be placed in schools, and tournaments will be played on a regular basis to help drive the sport forward," Lothian visualised.
Looking at the JTTA mission statement: "Table Tennis... everywhere... anywhere", Lothian said that the new association is on a drive to increase its membership from 32 at present to over 100; revive defunct or dormant parish associations; appoint coaches at all relevant levels; re-establish the Parish National Championships; get local players into the top-five of regional ranking; establish agreements with strong table tennis-playing countries with a view to improve local expertise, and where possible, get equipment grants; explore opportunities in local and overseas academies for scholarships; create a strategic marketing and promotion programme by February of next year.
Looking at the rut into which Jamaican table tennis has fallen since Orville Haslam and Winston Oliver left the sport, Lothian assured reporters that his new Administration will be working at developing a table tennis product that would not only woo sustained corporate support, but will give rise to overwhelming public participation through the establishment of more table tennis clubs and the staging of a lot more tournaments, whether in schools, community centres or church halls.
These activities and the level of participation of corporate Jamaica with table tennis, Lothian said, "will act as a catalyst to generate that general excitement the sport once brought to thousands".
He wants to recreate the glory days when the Fosters, Hyltons (Stephen and Gavin), the Haslams, Fuarnado Roberts, Christopher Beaubruns, Michael Tenn, Richard Stephenson, Colin McNish, Monica Desouza, Tina Walters, and the Evon Williams laid siege on the green table.