by Dora Jeler

Hosted at the facilities of the GOGOV sport complex which housed the course participants for the duration of the course. Supported and funded by Olympic Solidarity, the ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coach Education Course was followed by a training camp, led by French expert, Nicolas Guigon.

A total of 17 coaches, including one female coach from Serbia, participated in the 30-hour-course. The daily program consisted of three-hour sessions twice a day, featuring a combination of theory and practical sessions.

The second part of the activity was a training camp which was joined by 15 youth players and during which the coaches could enhance their practical skills and partially fulfil their post-course requirements too. A total of ten women and girls participated in both activities which brought female participation to around 30%.

“We have now, after the Coach Education Course, more exercises to work step by step with beginners and especially with young kids”Sasko BOGATINOV, Coaching Course participant

The activity was a full success, thanks to the meticulous planning and great organisation by the Member Association, which ensured perfect conditions for the activity. The preparations were overseen by Goran Tilovski, President of the Table Tennis Association of North Macedonia (TTANM), and Zlatko Rikalovski, Vice-President of TTANM, who took care of the logistics, protocol, photography, opening ceremony, translation on the ground, and other details, which were all perfectly prepared in advance.

A coaching course in session. (Photo credit : Sotir Gabeloski)

After weeks of uncertainty, while monitoring and tracking the situation with COVID-19 globally and locally, a window of opportunity to implement the activity opened up, which enabled ITTF and the local organizers to begin planning for the course, managed and overseen by Katarzyna Kubas, the ITTF HPD Continental Development Manager.

“After several months of suspension of all Table Tennis activities in the country due to the pandemic, we are particularly glad to be here in Pehcevo for the organization of the OS-ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course followed by the Youth Camp for our best young players under the umbrella of the Olympic Solidarity Program. Having said this, organizing both events is a form of challenge for us as organizers to arrange interesting events, under specific health protocols, with which we will announce the start of the new competitions season. We have in front of us a series of two events which will be organized here in Pehcevo in the beautiful Hotel Gogov complex with strong support from the municipality of Pehcevo. The first five days will start with the organization of the coaching course, whereas after the satisfactory completion of the final exam as well as the practical part, our coaches will be entitled to get the relevant ITTF coaching certificates. These development activities are of essential importance for our association as a cornerstone for our growth acceleration in terms of development of our coaches as well as strengthening the work with younger categories of players. We received full support from ITTF with provision of a high level expert from France, Nicolas Guigon as well as funding support from the International and Local Olympic committees area  guarantee for a high quality organization of both events” – President Tilovski

Furthermore, ITTF High Performance & Development, in cooperation with TTANM, made every effort to ensure the provision of the needed protective measures to keep everyone safe and in good health, providing the “COVID-19 Guidelines for ITTF HPD Activities” which has been developed for ITTF Member Associations and their stakeholders to continue to enjoy and participate in HPD activities during the current global health emergency.

A group of next-gen table tennis coaches in training! (Photo credit : Sotir Gabeloski)

At the same time and as a great example for those Member Associations wanting to follow into these footsteps, TTANM as the organizing Member Association developed a COVID-19 Protocol relating directly to national table tennis activities approved by North Macedonian health authorities.

This extraordinary commitment to protecting participants and staff is an outstanding example on how we will be able to return to table tennis in the future months.

“I hope to see one North Macedonian player and their coach in my region Alsace in France, in one of the next EuroMiniChamp’s held in late August every year. It was great to work and share the passion for table tennis with such very good solidarity inside an enthusiastic group of coaches and players.” – Nicolas, ITTF Expert

The opening ceremony took place on Monday, 24th August 2020 in the presence of Mr. Saso Popovski, the Secretary of the Macedonian Olympic Committee, the Association’s President Mr. Tilovski and local “protocol man” Jovan Kovaconvski, to answer as practically as possible the most important questions about protective measures and protocol to be followed in regards to current circumstances.

The opening ceremony was informative about the security measures. (Photo credit : Sotir Gabeloski)

On the field the COVID-19 Guidelines provided by ITTF were strictly followed, along with local guidance on the pandemic. All measures were respected throughout: hand gel, face mask, medical staff present in the training hall, physical social distancing, air circulation in classrooms, measuring body temperature daily and so on. We are glad to say that no health problem has been reported.

“We enjoyed the special game ‘serves and pursuit’” – Nenat Tilovski (12 years old) and Borjan Cvetkovski (15 years old), participants of the Training Camp

The course was conducted on the basis of the ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Manual and were adapted according to the specific needs of the participants, such as introducing exercises for talent identification and development.

Now 17 coaches will have to further develop and prove their skills under the supervision of Sasko Bogatinov, National Selector.

“Short term we think about the Balkan Championship beginning of October 2020. Mid-term, we’d like to propose an ITTF Level 2 Coach Education Course in 2021 or 2022.” – President Tilovski

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