Introduction

Since its unification in 1991, the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB) has come a long way in introducing the sport of table tennis to all spectrums of the South African population, on one level, and to start the journey towards international competition medals, on another.

The idea of this business plan is to bring into perspective the long-term vision of the South African Table Tennis Board for the next five to ten years.

The South African Table Tennis Board has already implemented a number of far-reaching developmental programmes, in partnership with local, regional, provincial and national Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA), Department of Education and the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF).

The past 3 years, with the financial resources and support received from our stakeholders, the SATTB has been able to successfully embark on a program to promote and popularize the development of table tennis in South Africa.

History – SATTU & SATTB

2001 was a historical year for the South African Table Tennis Board as it celebrated ten years of unification. The unity was between the then South African Table Tennis Union (SATTU) that was formed in 1939 and the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB) that was formed in 1948.The two organisations SATTU and SATTB signed a declaration of intent on 21 July 1991 to unite the SATTB and SATTU into one controlling body for Table Tennis in South Africa.

SATTU was affiliated to South African National Olympic Committee (SANOC) and the Confederation of South African Sports (COSAS). SATTB was affiliated to the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and National Olympic Sports Congress (NOSC). The SATTB enjoyed the membership of both the ATTF and ITTF during the isolation years.

The unification process was facilitated by Mr. Hans Gisecke, Vice-President Finance (ITTF), Mr. George Segun President of the ATTF and Mr. Fikrou Kidane Special Advisor to the IOC on African Affairs. The Declaration of Intent outlined the mandate of the unified interim structure for the next two years, which commenced on 21 July 1991 – December1993, after which democratic elections would be held to elect the Executive Body.

In February 1992 an Inauguration Championships was held in Johannesburg and once again we were honoured by the presence of Mr. Ichiro Ogimura, President of the ITTF, Mr. George Segun, President of the ATTF. Mr. Ichiro Ogimura mentioned at this event that he would be discussing the possibility of awarding two wild cards to South Africa to participate in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games with his executive, which had the support of the ATTF and NOSC.

South Africa was awarded two wild cards and the two athletes that represented South Africa were Mr. Louis Botha (SATTU) and Miss Cheryl Roberts (SATTB). The decision to send these two athletes was met with some resistance, the National Interim Body was determined that it would be a team of National Unity.

In 1993 South Africa’s participation in the World Championships, raised the issue of merit selection versus a team of national unity. The SATTB then sought the advice and assistance of Dr Sam Ramsamy President of the newly formed NOCSA. The interim executive agreed that a team of National Unity would represent South African Gothenburg, Sweden. This decision was made to further consolidate the transformation process.

On the 24 July 1993 the secretariat circulated a preliminary agenda notice for the Biennial General Meeting and calling for elections for the executive board. During this phase the national executive realised that unification within certain affiliates was not being achieved and this was evident when the nominations were received from the affiliates for the National Executive Board.

At the Biennial General Meeting held on 26 September 1993, Mr. Ichiro Ogimura, Mr. George Segun and Mr. Bas van Brejen, ITTF Media Chairperson was present. This was the turning point for the unification process within the SATTB. It was blatant that a minority of white administrators was going to de-rail what had been achieved in the past two years. The Late Dr Errol Vawda unable to attend the BGM due to ill health had forwarded a letter that was tabled at the meeting:" I wish to bring to the attention of the meeting that calling of elections was not sanctioned by me. It is contrary to the constitution and the declaration of intent as complete unity between the SATTB and SATTU has not been achieved satisfactorily and therefore I suggest that the unification process be extended to December 1994".

Mr. Ogimura and Mr. Segun informed the delegates, as the unity process was very fragile, that it was advisable to heed Dr Vawda’s request and extend the unity period to December 1994. Both Mr. Ogimura and Mr. Segun also highlighted the possibility that if unity failed, South Africa will be suspended from the ITTF and ATTF.

After much deliberation the delegates agreed that the unity process be extended for another year. During the period 1993-1994 the executive agreed that South Africa would not be participating in World events except in Zonal and Continental competitions. The rationale was to consolidate the efforts of the development programs and to ensure that unity is achieved by all the affiliates of the SA Table Tennis Board. It was also realised that the existing structure of the national executive was too cumbersome and a more lean and effective structure had to be implemented, which in effect meant a National executive of six persons with sub-committees.

This proposed amendment was to be tabled at the AGM that was held in 1994 in Cape Town. The Annual General Meeting was held on 25 September 1994 in Cape Town and was adjourned. The continuation of the AGM was re-convened on 22 April 1995 in Johannesburg and a New Executive Committee was elected.

By this time The SATTB was confident that team selection would be on merit as the development programs was starting to produce the desired results and this was evident when we participated in the 6th All Africa Games in Harare 1995. Since 1996 democratic elections were held every second-year, with no fear or concern that an individual or a group of persons will derail the progress achieved since unification.

Success of Transformation during the 10 years

One of the key principles of the SATTB was and still is to ensure that table tennis reflects the demographics of the country. In retrospect the early teams of national unity enabled us to fast-track the playing standards of PDI’s to such an extent that we were able to select a team on merit for the 1995 All Africa Games, this team had a 40% black representatives. By 1997 the national team that participated in the World Championships reflected 72% black athletes and this trend have continued.

Further inroads have been made at Provincial level, whereby at the last years Junior Championships 80% of the participants were black. The SATTB has also witnessed the emergence of more black administrators at provincial level. The South African Table Tennis Board is proud of its history and the progress made during the past ten years, the unification and transformation process has resulted in a non-racial, non-sexist organisation, which we treasure very dearly.

The challenge is now in the hands of the affiliates and future administrators to consolidate these accomplishments. Table Tennis is looked upon as one of the few sports to have been able to select its athletes totally on merit, which reflects the people of South Africa.

The Road Ahead

The challenge that faces the South African Table Tennis Board in the 21st century is to ensure that table tennis is accessible to the majority of citizens especially the youth, girls and persons with disabilities both in the urban and rural communities and at the same time assist the elite athletes to achieve their life dreams of being the best in the world.

Long live the SATTB, long live Table Tennis!

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