Commencing on Friday 13th and concluding on Friday 20th October, the Hopes Training Camp took place in Fiji; the event preceding the beginning of the official ITTF World Cadet Challenge Training Camp. Hot and humid conditions greeted the young Hopes players at the Suva Vodafone Arena, getting ready for the prestigious event.

Group Photo 2017 Hopes Team Training Camp, Fiji. (Photo: Daniela Gomes)

At the recent ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge the top four girls and four boys taking part were selected based on global reach and universality. The 2017 Hopes Team is composed by athletes and coaches coming from 11 countries and all continents.

Heart and soul, the legacy: former Hopes giving back

Head Coach Dejan Papic conducted the daily training sessions both on morning and afternoon, a total of six hours per day.

“I think that the training camp proved that the Hopes concept worked because we had a former hopes player, Dario Arce from Latin America who has truly put his heart and soul into the camp and lifted our level a lot. We also had another former hopes from Oceania, Finn Lu who joined the camp. Our main goal was not so much the WCC results, it was to prepare and improve players through the training camp. I think they practiced really very well. All reasons to be satisfied!” Dejan Papic

Although the number one goal of the programme is to encourage National Associations to run talent identification programs, the push for the growth of young talented players comes hand in hand with coach education. Dejan Papic was the expert in charge of coach education and all throughout the week, group and individual mentoring took place, with a focus on players’ analysis and training periodisation. Key themes for the future work of the coaches with their players.

Players and Coaches prepare for training during the Hopes Team Training Camp. (Photo: Daniela Gomes)

“We discussed our main topics with the coaches: Analysis of Players and Periodization. The next step is to align more National Team programs with international programs. I expect that National Associations (NA) may step in and put a clear program for these young players so we can invest in the players and the NA continues to build a good follow up programme. The World Cadet Challenge or the Hopes Team should not be the final target, it should be the initial step. This means that the next steps would need more planning, more investment and I’m looking forward to this.” Dejan Papic

Eyes on the ball, goal setting was key

The Hopes players were asked to define the key elements they wanted to improve during the training camp. First and second position in the recent 2017 World Hopes challenge Zhou Jingyi and Tayler Fox provide some interesting insights on the goals they set up for the camp.

Dejan Papic requested total commitment to the Hopes Team players (Photo: Daniela Gomes)

“During this one week of training with the Hopes Team I felt that I have improved in a lot of areas, for example my footwork, coordination of hands, body and legs and change of gravity from the right to the left leg. I hope I can use the improved areas during the competition and do well.” Zhou Jingyi

Zhou Jingyi and Tayler Fox were interviewed by the National Fiji TV at the Vodafone Arena. (Photo: Daniela Gomes)

“My focus was on my footwork, because I felt there was a lot of room for improvement. I worked on exercises to improve my speed on the table and I felt my footwork improved day by day with each training session.” Tayler Fox

Stage one of the itinerary completed successfully

At the conclusion of the camp ITTF Education and Training emphasises that this is not the end of the road for these young talented players. ITTF has setup a comprehensive development pathway and will keep close contact with the participants, both athletes and coaches, and respective national associations, trying to encourage and mentor them to further develop in their table tennis and future careers.

Stage one of the itinerary completed successfully. Heads up. World Cadet Challenge Training camp in sight.