Report from an attempt to make a Development Plan for Fiji Table Tennis in September 2018.

Let me start with a sentence from an email I got from Anthony Ho on Friday 14. September 2018:
"Are you disappointed because I have sent you a Action Pan and a Strategic Plan."
Disappointed? Well, I came back to Fiji just to make a development plan for Fiji table tennis and I had been working hard several hours every day for almost four weeks to make one. And then it turned out that they already had a development plan (from 2016 to 2020)!
So yes, I was disappointed. I was supposed to stay in Fiji for a year but I was so disappointed that I left Fiji the same week. And so disappointed that it has taken me three months to write this report, something I usually do in a day or two!

Table tennis in Fiji has always been special to me. It started when I way back in 1989 on my way to my wife's county of Tuvalu learned that Fiji needed a coach to prepare the players for the South Pacific games. I agreed to do be the national coach - and Fiji men's team got their first ever medal in the games (silver)!
After a "coup" within Fiji table tennis by an Indian national I decided to quit the job - he offered me a salary it was not possible to live for and said that I was not allowed to do my other profession as a writer. So I had no option but to leave, - and the Indian veteran could keep his position in the national squad, and also move the training to a night club where he had interests, and soon abolished the training all together.

Norway was to cold for my wife and me so when I was offered a position as State Director of Coaching for Queensland we moved to Australia in late 1990. My job was this time conduct a Pilot Project in table tennis for the Logan club close to Brisbane. My aim was not only to coach the club's players, but to start regular fixtures, organise tournament for all ages, attract young kids and get as much as possible about table tennis into the media. It must have said to have worked very well. Logan beat Brisbane 6-0 in the state league (Brisbane had all the top raked players)! And I got heaps of kids to play, held Australia first tournament for cadets, managed to get quite a few articles in the newspapers and was on the radio every week!
The appointment was only for a year and unfortunately the president of the club quit due to work commitments and they discovered that the club could not afford to rent their venue. So I had to sell the car, terminate the lease of the house, hold a garage sale and leave the country.

Well, we came back to Australia again but this time under the sponsorship of my wife as an aged care worker in Townsville.
I tried to stay away from table tennis but then it happened that our son Olav started to play table tennis in the Christmas holiday 2007/8 (one of the Logan players had moved to Townsville and he managed to get Olav to a come-and-try day). So I was pulled back into coaching again.
I had no to totally lost contact with Fiji - and Anthony Ho, who was elected the President of Fiji Table Tennis, made me agree that I should come over and conduct a international training camp in December/January 20011/2012 and also Christmas 2013. Both camps were quite successful, we had all the best Fiji players and top players from many of the Pacific countries.

After the camps in Fiji I concentrated on helping table tennis in Townsville. I was the head coach for a year and after that I helped to prepare the juniors for the Queensland junior championships (Olav won a couple of gold medals and the U13 boys' team got their first gold medal).

Then it happened that a Hopes event in table tennis should be help in Townsville in March this year (2018) and Anthony Ho asked it I could come over and coach the two 12-years old boys that were selected, take them to Townsville, coach them during the competition, take them back to Fiji and then coach all the Fiji players for the rest of the month.
The boys did quite well, and when I came back to Fiji with them I was happy to coach all the players. Anthony Ho had told me during the preparation for the Hopes event that the players played quite well at home but failed to play up to their best during international events. So I made a note of this and changed my usual European style coaching a bit. I know the Pacific attitude since I have been living in Tuvalu, Kiribati and Fiji - so during the training camps in Fiji I had always tried to make the exercises fun. Fun, but at the same time with intensity and concentration. So all the exercises now was with counting. Counting how man balls across the net during regular counter-hit exercises - and having top-table on regular, irregular and match-like exercises. I also started having match play (Fixtures) on Wednesdays and competitions in the weekends. Often in a handicap format (starting on different points) so that the weaker players could have a chance to beat the better players and the better players could learn how to concentrate against weaker players.
It must have worked well, because in the next Oceania ITTF event in Cook Island the junior girls defeated Australia in the team events while the cadet girls beat New Zealand and the sisters Filo and Neli Duncan won the cadet girls doubles.

It is never easy to handle unexpected success and after the impressive results in the Oceania event I felt that it would be so important for Fiji table tennis to look forwards.
They needed to understand that they had taken some of the higher ranked player by surprise and that Australia and New Zealand were not very strong on the international table tennis scene. Fiji table tennis needed a proper plan so that they could look forwards. I suggested for Anthony Ho that I should come over to Fiji again and make a Development Plan for them. I was so keen to help them that I offered to come over on my own accord, pay my own ticket and be a volunteer.
This was on such notice that it would be no time to ask if they wanted me as a national coaching director and I was more interested in making a proper plan for them - and this was Anthony Ho's suggestion:
"Therefore, the best way to try and get you in for 12 months (if that time frame is OK) is by way of Sports Administrator but you can also assist with coaching and development clinics."
I agreed - and came over again (my wife had left for Norway to help our daughter and her three small kids and was supposed to be there indefinitely).

The setup for table tennis in Fiji is a bit strange. Usually the national body has the responsibility to look after and help the districts and then the district associations are looking after the clubs. There are no district associations in Fiji. There are many districts on several islands but only organized table tennis in the capital on the main island Vitu Levu. There was only one club, Templetec, run by a former English player; Steve Reilly. He had previously run a club in Lautoka on the western side of the main island but he had by the help of en Chinese business man established a club in Fijis only table tennis venue. With 5 tables and already with the ground work done to make the venue many times larger. There was one problem; Steve and Anthony were not on very good terms. Well, during the period I was there, there were days when Anthony's players could not use the normal venue they rented at the disabled centre and had to do the training in Steve's venue.

Well, my job, as I thought was to make a Development Plan, so I started by buying a hard cover file folder and to collect information about the present status. I bought the Fiji newspapers every day and glued it into the part of the folder that worked as a scrap book. There were a few stories about table tennis since we were having the Fiji Open table tennis tournament and because the Yee-sisters were going to Japan and China to practise table tennis (with some wrong information - like mixing up the sisters names), but if you compared to rugby, soccer, basket and netball what was written about our sport was hardy anything. I also cut out in glued in all the names and e-mail addresses of all the journalists of the papers and where to send newsletters in general. And everything else that could be useful.
Anthony Ho took me to a meeting with the local tv-station, and there I was also presented for a person who was supposed to be the media person for table tennis in Fiji. We had a chat outside the door after the meeting while waiting for the transport and I was surprised that he only wanted to talk with me about soccer. Not a world about table tennis! This person was also supposed to be at the Fiji Open every day but he never turned up and I never heard why.
After the tournament I was told that the weekly training should keep on. In many countries it is normal to have a short break after the major goal for the season, but Anthony Ho wanted them to keep on. I tried to figure out what role I should have but Anthony said that he was not longer a member of the committee of Fiji Table Tennis and that I should contact Narendra Lal since he was the interim president. I tried to contact Narendra by text to his mobile phone and a message to his Facebook page but no response. I had also been told by Anthony that Yashua Shing (a player from for Vanuatu) should become the Fiji national coach.

Well, I went to see what was going on at the training. There were four "coaches" doing multi-ball practising for the players on four tables. No information to the players, no communication between the coaches. Obviously there was no prepared plan, no coaching book with comments on the training and the players after each session. Not the way I want to work when it comes to table tennis. I always prepare a written practising schedule/program before every session, and makes notes during and after the session. And if there is more that one coach then I believe that they should work together with one of them the responsible head coach.
I was there during a few sessions but nobody said a word to me.
So I must admit I was a bit confused and disappointed. I believed that Anthony Ho had cleared my role with the committee and that I was there mainly to make a Development Plan, which I also had explained to the Oceania hight performance manager Patrick Wuertz. So when Anthony suddenly sent me an email with existing development plan for Fiji table tennis then I had to wonder what I was there for. If somebody had told me that I should help them implement an existing plan that might have been ok with me. But make a plan when they already had one??
I changed my plane ticket and left for Australia.

- hold the long delayed AGM (Annual General Meeting).
- FTTA then must review the existing development plan and start implementing it.
- FTTA should establish ranking lists for all age groups, start holding monthly tournaments, put the result on the FTTA web-pages, sending rankings and tournament results to the media (newspapers, radio-stations and tv-channels), start making monthly bulletins for the clubs, media and webpages, start a team league and of course register all the players ).
- upgrade the FTTA web-pages regularly.
- keep in contact with the Oceania and ITTF bodies and also other countries.
- establish clubs in the Suva area like: Veisari Table Teennis Club (Kope), Disabled TTC (Mere), Anthony Ho Ass TTC (Tony), University of South Pacific TTC, Lami TCC, Nabua TCC, a.s.o.
- establish associations and clubs in the districts (Nadi is most important because communication/transport)
- keep on the schools, start school tournaments and inter-school championships.
- educate coaches (all levels) and make sure the coaches and development officer are working in the clubs and schools.
- keep on holding national training sessions and holiday camps.
- keep on sending the best and most promising players overseas for training and competition.
- get players from overseas to participate in training and tournaments.
- send coaches overseas to study coaching in other countries.

Terry Dahl

Academy 2008
Newsletter 2009
Coaching Comittee - 2009
Coaching plan, period 1 - 2009
Coaching plan, period 2 - 2009
Coaching plan, period 3 - 2009
Turbo Table
Coaching Clinic - 2009 -
All Ages Tournament - 2009
Recuitment - 2009 .
"Time for a change"

Coaches Workshop - 2010

Development forum 2014

"My life as table tennis coach and administrator":
First page
Part 1: From 1971 to 2005
Part 2: From 2005 to present
Logan Pilot Project
Certificate from the Swedish club Falköping.
Certificate and cv from the Norwegian Table Tennis Association.
Certificate from Oslo Table Tennis Association.
from Fokus Table Tennis Association.
Certificate from Aussie Sports.
Certificate Strenght and Conditioning for Sport course
Supporting letter
- from Paul Jones
Supporting letter
- from Australian Table Tennis Association