Staged in Cairo; organised by the Umpires and Referees Committee of the International Table Tennis Federation, with the support of both the Egyptian Table Tennis Federation and the African Table Tennis Federation; the ancient city steeped in history was the home for a recent International Referees School.

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Matters most efficiently prepared and co-ordinated by the host nation’s Mohamed Bassyouni, proceedings commenced on Friday 6th October and concluded on Monday 9th October.

Home for the gathering was the meeting room of the Egyptian Table Tennis Federation located next to the famous Cairo Stadium in Nasr City. A total of 13 candidates attended, 11 men and two women, all being Blue Badge umpires.

Present to welcome all was Mr. Khaled El-Salhy, President of African Table Tennis Federation.

“An International Referees School takes place in Africa for the first time and we are very proud to host this important course in Cairo and welcome so many candidates from around the world. This course will send a positive signal to all our countries and will motivate us to continue educating our match officials.” Khaled El-Salhy"

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 Similar to previous Schools, the itinerary involved active participation of the candidates on rules interpretation, conduct of draws, scheduling of matches and most importantly role play as a Referee. During the three days of intensive study and overnight assignments, candidates gained experience in becoming active Referees.

Significantly present was Germany’s Michael Zwipp, also approved as a trainer for such courses by the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee

“Preparation for this International Referees School started two years ago; since that time National Referees Courses were held in Cameroon, Sudan and Morocco to deliver practical training and select candidates for the next step in their refereeing career. It was like driving on a bumpy road but the hard work paid off. I am very happy that six candidates passed the International Referees School, increasing the number of International Referees in Africa to 10 in total.” Michael Zwipp

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Notably, Mohamed El-Dawlatly, ITTF Competition Manager and Information Technology Consultant, was present on the concluding afternoon, the co-operation and the roles fulfilled at ITTF tournaments by Referees and Competition Managers being the subject under discussion.

“Competition Managers and the Referees have to work as a team, they share many responsibilities. It is important that the Referee is capable on all technical aspects at a tournament and sets the frame for providing a consistent high standard for all matches. In addition, the Competition Manager deals with the presentation of our sport. Together we deliver great table tennis for spectators, media and sponsors.” Mohamed El-Dawlatly

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Most definitely the presence of Mohamed El-Dawlatly was well received; many questions resulted.

The co-operation and communication between Competition Manager and Referee has become very important in the modern day presentation of major events. The session with Mohamed El-Dawlatly, allowing potential International Referees to learn directly from a professional Competition Manager, proved most valuable. We are pleased that both the Competition Managers and Referees share the common goal of making the sport of table tennis more competitive and at the same time more entertaining.

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One major aim of the meeting addressed thanks to the visit of Mohamed El-Dawlatly; another objective, as always, was to qualify new International Referees. Thus assessment was needed. Assessment took the form of course performance, a comprehensive written test and an individual interview. As a result of the stringent assessments, six candidates passed and are now qualified as International Referees.

Among them, South Africa’s Genevieve Lentz has become the first female International Referee from Africa. Many congratulations to Genevieve. She is no stranger to the table tennis family. She was actually one of the umpires at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In addition to Genevieve Lentz; from Egypt, Mohammad El-Rawdy, Mahmoud Gado, Mahmoud Atia Koraim and Khaled Zaki qualified as did India’s Mangesh Mopkar.

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