from an attempt to make a Development Plan for Fiji Table
Tennis in September 2018.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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
- 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
- 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
- keep on sending the best and most promising players overseas
for training and competition.
- get players from overseas to participate in training and
- send coaches overseas to study coaching in other countries.