A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) and the Vanuatu Table Tennis Federation (VTTF) to progress development of opportunities for para-table tennis – especially into the provinces.
Since 2017 the VPC has been developing squads of parathletes in the provinces and now have parathletes training several times a week in Isangel, Tanna; Luganville Santo; a new group in Lakatoro as well as two groups in Vila – one at Ecole Centrale and another under the auspices of Wan Smol Bag at Tagabe, Port Vila. The focus to date has been on athletics – running, javelin and shotput but this MOU signing will see expansion of activities to include table tennis.
“Through our program ‘Smash Down Barriers’ w have been running table tennis programs in Port Vila with our Development Officer Ham Lulu but we have found it hard to move out into the provinces in a sustainable way. We have a para-table tennis program with a few talented players like multi medal winner Mary Rommel – but need to find new talent both para and able-bodied. The VPC has established well-run groups meeting regularly so we think we can piggy-back onto this organisation – moving sideways to and table tennis as cross training,” commented James Malau, VTTF President.
The new provincial para-table tennis program is going to be an integrated approach. Integration sees both para athletes and able bodied athletes receiving training at the same time, from the same coaches. It delivers a “double-whammy” – effective efficient use of valuable resources equipment and time for maximum impact.
“The VTTF and VPC are already in discussions with the Vanuatu Council of Churches and their Vanuatu Church Partnership Program to explore the idea of buying table tennis tables, paddles and balls to be housed in Church Halls with table tennis coaching and competitions supported by technical coaches from the Table Tennis Federation and the organisational support of the Paralympic movement,” responded Margaret Macfarlane, VPC President.