Penang push for paddler power

THE Penang Table Tennis Association (PTTA) is caught in a “chicken and egg” situation in its bid to raise the standard of the sport in the state. 

”In order to get support from sponsors and the media, our players need to achieve good results in competitions. 

“But without proper financial backing, it is difficult to prepare the players to produce good results. 

“PTTA need to deal with the two problems simultaneously,” said PTTA president Datuk Michael Tiah recently. 

Despite finding the task to be a real challenge, the association are determined to push ahead with their plans to popularise the sport. 

Tiah cited the lack of attractive prize money in local table tennis competitions as the reason why the sport was not thriving like other sports such as football, badminton, squash and bowling. 

“Attractive prize money will provide more incentives for the players to train hard.  

“Having world-class local players will automatically generate public interest in table tennis. Nicol David's success ignited interest in squash in Malaysia. 

“It is also time for us to establish full-time professional table tennis players, whereby the welfare of the player is fully taken care of. 

“The player only needs to concentrate on the game and not worry about finding work to make ends meet,” he said. 

PTTA, with the co-operation of the Penang Sports Council, have set up two training centres in the state. 

The centre in Kepala Batas is helmed by former China national coach Su Wenzhi, while seven-time national champion Phua Bee Sim will take charge of the centre at the Chung Ling (Private) High School from today.  

PTTA managed to rope in private company PLB Engineering as the main sponsor for the upcoming Penang Open Championships, which will be held on Oct 16-22 at Chung Ling (Private). 

Their next targets are the cash-rich factories, with the revivals of the Commercial Cup inter-factory tournament and the Penang Table Tennis League competitions being planned. 

The Penang paddlers are also making waves in Malaysian tournaments, with Peng Jia Ping finishing third in the men’s singles and partnering Choo Sim Guan to a men’s doubles runners-up finish at the National Championships. 

The boys’ Under-17 paddlers won two titles at the 2004 Malaysian Youth Championship. 

PTTA are promoting better communication among the association, affiliates, players and the public through their quarterly newsletter and welcome feedback from all parties by e-mail

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