Review of 2020 – Challenging times demand adaptable measures

Our second official year kept us on our toes. Looking back, we have two conflicting feelings: On one hand, we had many projects that were forced to shut down for a determined period of time. On the other hand, we had to adapt and managed to be flexible, innovative and supportive. And we can be proud. Not only because we were able to help people in need, but because it was accomplished together thanks to your help.

Seemingly Normal, Smooth Start – but with a Twist

On track for the first quarter: Busy, but promising times with the Dream Building Fund (DBF) 2019 field visits and DBF 2020 selection, World Table Tennis Day (WTTD) and Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships preparation.

Here comes the twist: Covid-19 was declared as a global pandemic on March 11, which turned plans inside out. It was and still is particularly important to leave no one behind and adapting measures to the new situation. Here is what happened to our plans:

Stay HOME – Healthy, Optimistic, Mindful, Engaged

Our first response was turning the WTTD into a movement which can be celebrated from home to flatten the curve and block Covid-19. The World Table Tennis ‘at Home’ Day (WTTAHD) turned out amazing: We saw active people from 171 member countries and territories participating and being united in the craziest, longest table tennis rally – marking the achievement of one of the key outcomes of ITTF’s Strategic Plan 2018-2024 regarding promotion. From playing with a garbage bin, a flipper, a banana to using the coffee table as a table tennis table or toilet paper as a net – our WTTAHD family got creative and had lots of fun.

Living Solidarity through Table Tennis

As the table tennis community is one of the ten largest sports communities in the world, and its people were affected, some even in dire need of help, we created the fundraising campaign #TableTennisUnited together with the International Table Tennis Federation and World Table Tennis. Over the last six months, we have received financial donations and donations in kind from all over the world, supporting more than 50 initiatives worldwide.

Within this campaign, we managed to financially boost also our field projects in order to have e.g. food and sanitisers distributed in their community. Many of their project participants faced dire straits due to the pandemic and the lock down consequences. Others got very creative to keep participants moving. An outstanding result is the new relationship between 2 of our projects targeting refugees: Ping Pong Alkmaar (PPA) – one of the DBF 2019 projects – held weekly online sessions with the refugee coaches in the Za'atari camp from the project Nittaku Dream Building with Refugees part of the Peace and Sport Live together Programme. This was not only a way to showcase table tennis as a universal language and tool to build relations, but both projects also benefited from it. PPA had skills and reminded the coaches that they were not forgotten, while the coaches from the camp gave the refugees and migrants in PPA at the same time an opportunity to reflect on their current situation in times of a pandemic.

The Emergency Relief Fund – a response to disasters in order to aid affected ITTF member countries and territories – was fully allocated to Lebanese Table Tennis Federation after the devastating explosion in Beirut. While the 2019 support allocated to Iran Table Tennis Federation after the catastrophic floods was delayed due to challenging logistics, it was possible to be successfully delivered in 2020.

Some more Highlights

We delightfully extended our Foundation family: Her Royal Highness Princess Zeina Rashid of Jordan joined as a new Governing Board member giving fresh input to benefit of our sport, vision and mission.

Our Get Inspired section, being the ITTF Foundation online library, is being more and more filled with content to inspire everyone who wishes to learn about using table tennis as a tool for social development, with useful tips, best practises, and guidelines. This also includes all the stories from our field projects (Story of Change; Changemaker Stories) as well as our re‑activated Inspirational Women Series.

In regard to our field projects, the success of DBF 2019 project Ping4Alzheimers has opened the door to ensure that the project will be sustainable for the long term. Not only has the project evolved from a single, good practise, pilot project in the Levallois Sporting Table Tennis Club, it has also gained national media coverage and used its notoriety to launch the future of the programme: A registered national association “Ping4Alzheimers”. From our original seed funding, the project has inspired and multiplied programmes in other clubs, nationwide. For 2021, they are planning to go continental and spread to European clubs.

The Foundation in the International Spotlight

No matter the circumstances, we work hard because we believe in the power of table tennis contributing to a better world and are always grateful when this is publicly recognised. This shows us that we are on the right track.

2020 brought two international recognitions:

One more grant became available in order to keep doing the good work in the future, notably;

  • The European Union gives a grant to TAFISA-led project “International and European Sport Organisations Activate Citizens”, to which the ITTF Foundation will contribute through coaching framework and other expertise.
The Foundation staff sends you warm season’s greetings!

What’s coming in 2021

  • Our new TT4Health project TT@WORK provides a great opportunity to motivate employees and to promote communication between them. We have developed TT@WORK as an approach that positively influences corporate culture since it is tailored to the health and well-being needs of employees in companies. Kindly note, that the project is currently only in German, as we are first starting with Germany as a test market.
  • With the 2021 WTTD edition we aim to encourage event organisers and the table tennis community to use our beloved sport to contribute to gender equality and #FEMpowerment. In general, we want this day to be socially inclusive and use it to celebrate our sport for one day with the ultimate aim to keep as many people as possible involved with table tennis. Therefore, we launched the WTTD Promoters Initiative, offering an opportunity for you to make WTTD and table tennis itself more popular in your country or territory!
  • The next call of the Dream Building Fund is to open mid-year 2021 for projects starting in 2022. Every applicant is welcome to share their dream with us to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) using table tennis.
  • After postponing the second PWTTC in Berlin, Germany, the 2021 edition will be held from 9 to 11 September in order to raise awareness of the positive health benefits of playing table tennis for people with Parkinson’s.
  • And last but not least; 2021 commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy. Time to celebrate and raise awareness for the still important topic of promoting Peace through Table Tennis!

We are eager to see what (else) 2021 has to offer and look forward to a great year with Solidarity through Table Tennis!

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