25.03.2003 Sports News

4 Loopers for World tourney

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IN a frantic march towards renaissance, four stars have been selected to represent Ghana at this year’s World Table Tennis Championship to be staged in Paris, France.

The four players — Eric Amoah, Nana Yaw Boateng, Courage Nanevie and Eric Hammond — were selected after a special competition organised by the Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) in Accra late last month.

GTTA Chief Coach, Vincent Arhin, confirmed to the Graphic Sports in an interview that the names of the four players have already been submitted to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for registration for the May 19 to 25 competition.

Approval of funds for the championship by the Ministry of Youth and Sports is the only hurdle the Loopers are yet to clear. And when the funds are finally approved, it will end the chain of abortive trips by Ghanaian table tennis players to international competitions in nearly two years.

Last year alone, the Loopers missed the 2000 Manchester Commonwealth Games and the African Championship in Tunisia last year mainly due to the unavailability of funds. A last minute cancellation of their participation in the African juniors and seniors cups in South Africa last December also created acrimony between players and the association.

Informed by the age-old problem of lack of funds, and an earlier hint of it by the acting National Sports Council (NSC) boss, Dr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, the GTTA pruned down the team, as it contains no female players for the competition.

And even with this number (four) the tax payer is just burdened by projected expenses on only two of the players — Nana Yaw Boateng and Courage Nanevie.

Coach Arhin revealed that the other two - Amoah and Hammond — will sponsor themselves to the championship from their own funds although they will represent in the name of Ghana.

He explained that the two who are based separately in Holland and Britain, decided to cater for their travelling expenses to the competition in order to lessen the burden of funding from the government.

That, actually, informs the inclusion of Hammond in the team. The Britain-based player placed a low fifth at the special GTTA competition and would naturally have been looped out.

However, the GTTA technical committee, satisfied with his complaints of indisposition at the time of the competition, granted him the benefit of the doubt, since he was then regarded as the second best, having placed second in an earlier competition.

The team, which has stepped up its training regimen at the Sport Hall of the Accra Stadium, hopes to leave on May 18 for the championship, if the ministry approves funds for the trip.

Coach Arhin said even though he would have liked to enter France much earlier with the team for purposes of acclimatisation, unavailability of funds to support that programme is forcing the whole team to work within ‘what is available’.

He mentioned stamina work, psychological and physiological tune ups, techniques, and tactical shape-ups as the areas he is currently working hard on now.

The Loopers themselves see the championship as a long-awaited opportunity to prove their worth and justify a further commitment of funds towards their cause.

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