Barbados’ junior table tennis team of five boys, four girls and two coaches left the island on Monday for Canada to compete in the Junior Cadet And Open Table Tennis Championships. The team consists of Ramon Jackman, Jalani Miller, Ramon Maxwell, Stephen Payne and Tyrese Knight, as well as Janea Lewis, Marissa Alleyne, Jazel Griffith and Kennady King. Erica Banfield had to pull out of the squad due to illness.
The two coaches are Clifton Mark and Carl Sealy. Speaking at the Grantley Adams International Airport just before the team flew out, president of the Barbados Table Tennis Association, Ray Jackman, said that this was the first exposure for some of the youngsters at such a high level of competition.
“The tournament is an essential part of the rigorous training programme that has been put in place for them to get early exposure and see what the standard is really like.
“Hopefully in going to Canada, the team will be excited by what they see, and try to reach that standard by July/August. In August, they should be in a position to go to another international tournament so that their progression can be seen,” he said.
The ITTF World Cadet Challenge is scheduled for Barbados in October/November 2014 and this Canada trip will provide a good gauge of the standard the players have reached to compete in the year-end tournament.
“One of the challenges to the players is to put in the number of hours of practice to be able to get to the top level.
“To be geared to this kind of level, the players should put in at least twenty hours or more; given school, breaks and the fact that the coaches have to work otherwise, it is a challenge to put in that number of hours.
“Another challenge is that none of the coaches has coached at an international level and one thing that has to be done very shortly is to seek the assistance of an international coach who can help to bring the children to a world class standard as quickly as possible,” Jackman stated.
He added the BTTA was happy that they had children who were learning very quickly and had done well. Jackman noted that in the Barbados team were two Caribbean champions at the Cadet level and some of the others who were not champions were challenging them as well.
“So with a rigorous training programme, I am confident that within the next few months, they will rise to the challenge. During the summer holiday, there will be full day clinics, and all aspects of training will be incorporated.
“There will be technical training and drills, tactical training, physical training and attention will be paid to their mental preparation, because table tennis is a game of not only skill but one where the players have to think quickly on their feet and know how to outsmart their opponent,” he said.
The players return to Barbados on April 14.