Accra, March 29, GNA - The 13th All Africa Juniors Table Tennis Championship officially opened on Monday with 12 out of the 20 expected countries present. Among the countries competing in the tournament are Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo Brazaville, Egypt, Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa. The rest are Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco and host nation, Ghana.
The teams, together with other dignitaries present at the ceremony were treated to cultural performances from the Street Academy and the Frontomfrom Cultural troops. Mr Joe Aggrey, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports who performed the opening ceremony, commended the Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) for doing everything possible towards hosting of the tournament in spite of the parlous state of resources at their disposal. He said the achievements by the GTTA should serve as a motivating factor for associations' of other sporting disciplines to be innovative in searching for sponsorship to organise and host international events, since the government alone cannot bear the huge expenses involved in such sports promotions.
Mr Aggrey challenged the associations to put their houses together to live up to the challenges ahead. The Deputy Minster said the government will also take it as a challenge to provide facilities for all the sporting disciplines for them to perform well at all levels and called on all sportsmen and women in the country to intensify their preparations towards the Olympic Games, scheduled for Athens, Greece.
Mr Aggrey said that government is determined to build a new Sports Hall at the Accra Sports Stadium as part of the general renovations in preparations towards hosting of the 2008 Africa Cup Nations Cup. Squadron Leader Ebo Bartels, Chairman of the GTTA said Ghana accepted the responsibility to host the championship in order to re-awaken the spirit of the game in the country since the nation was once a giant in table tennis. He said the hosting of the tournament is also to rekindle the fraternal bonds that exist between members of the Africa Union and to enhance healthy interactions among African countries. He said the seven-day table tennis fiesta will also promote and offer employment opportunities to those who will be lured by the high skills that will be displayed to take it up as full time career as well providing tonic for entertainment.