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Aug 6, 2015

Table Tennis is Growing in Popularity

The summer vacation for students is winding down and so are the summer camps that have been keeping them occupied. At Body Two Thousand here on Coney Drive, about sixty-five children enrolled for tennis camps organized by the Belize Table Tennis Association. It is two-fold: to provide a healthy outlet as well as to identify young talent. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The sport of table tennis, popularly known as ping pong, is on the rise locally thanks to an aggressive campaign by the Belize Table Tennis Association to recruit young talent.  Twelve-year-old Terry Su is diminutive in stature.  His height however, has very little to do with his agility on the floor.  With extreme accuracy, that of a highly skilled marksman, Terry completes a succession of hits as his trainer mechanically smacks the lightweight ball across the table.

 

Terry Su

Terry Su, Athlete

“When I was young my dad bought a table and we started playing and then I love the sport so I train everyday now.”

 

Gabriel Guerrero, Technical Director, BTTA

“We have several camps that we have running over the summer since the kids are off for the summer vacation.  We have a lot of time that we can use to get training with them.  We do training with them during the year also but it’s very limited.  We have six camps, we have two running each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and they last for three weeks.”

 

Samron Pott

Samron Pott, Athlete

“A lot of my family play table tennis so they brought me into it and I started to love it.” 

 

Isani Cayetano

“What has this camp been like, I mean, it’s intensive, I see you sweating.  What has it been like in terms of either learning new techniques or reinforcing the ones that you already know?”

 

Samron Pott

“It‘s amazing but I‘ve been playing for long so it‘s more reinforcing the techniques that I‘ve already learned.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you had a chance to either compete against another local athlete or outside of Belize?”

 

Samron Pott

“No, not yet.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Looking forward to that?”

 

Samron Pott

“Yeah, I want to go abroad and represent Belize.”

 

Gabriel Guerrero

Gabriel Guerrero

“The training that we’re doing here is part of a bigger plan that we as an organization, an association, we are trying to accomplish which is, the ultimate goal is competing outside.  Just this year we participated in two Central American games.  In January we had participated in El Salvador for the under fifteen and under eighteen divisions.  We had sent three of our junior players and we had done fairly well, we had beaten Honduras in the team event and one of our juniors, John del Cid had qualified to play in the main draw of the singles event.  Just last month we had participated in the Central American games again for the under eleven and under thirteen division and we had sent two of our juniors there and again we had pretty impressive results.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How did you become interested in learning how to play table tennis?”

 

Rohit Pagarani, Athlete

“Well they came to our school to train us and I got interested in the sport so I started playing.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“And what has it been like for you over the course of time that you‘ve been playing table tennis?”

 

Rohit Pagarani

Rohit Pagarani

“Well I like the sport but like we have to really train hard so it’s good.”

 

Gabriel Guerrero

“Coming out of this summer training we have about sixty-five kids participating in this summer program across the six camps and they are competing essentially to become a part of our national team which is what we are focusing on after this.  So these kids here they are really trying to fight hard and we pushing them a lot.  We try to keep the training very intense, to push them so that they can make it to that team and represent Belize in events internationally.  That‘s what we hope to achieve with this.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now in terms of interest from those who would want to either learn how to play the game or become a part of a team that would be able to compete either locally or internationally, what has that been like?”

 

Gabriel Guerrero

“Participation has been improving a lot.  As I mentioned, a part of our initiative is that we go to the schools; we work with ten schools – six primary schools and four high schools.  S o through that a lot of the kids they play at school at their local clubs.  Saturdays at Belize Elementary School, we rent the gym from two o’clock to six o’clock so that that’s open to the public, so that the public can come, can join the association.  We have an active calendar of events, tournaments throughout the year.  We have thirteen tournaments that we have throughout the year and because of that there has been a lot of interest more and more each year.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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