34-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency
Day 34, July 29 - Khaled El-Salhy Thanks the ITTF for Supporting the African Continent
“The image of Table Tennis and its reputation really flourished during Adham Sharara’s presidency and I feel honored and privileged to have played a part in it.”
How did you get into table tennis?
I started to play table tennis when I was quite young. My club, which was a shooting club, was walking distance from my home. The club specialized in all shooting sports, with less interest for other sports like table tennis. As a result, we had some organizational and financial challenges. I was among a big group of friends, through family contacts, who were all fond of the sport.
We practiced together on a daily basis. We succeeded in finding an excellent coach, Hosny Fouad, to look after the team. He was at that time the coach for the Ahly Club and national teams, but he volunteered to coach us because there was no budget for table tennis even though the club is one of the richest clubs in Egypt. But he was happy and there was a family spirit among all of the players and parents.
There was a keenness to learn and practice. The next step was to persuade the club management to register with the Egypt Table Tennis Federation (ETTF) and to take part in all possible open tournaments. It was not easy in the beginning, but due to our insistence and taking care of all possible fees through parents, the club approved for us to participate under the responsibility of the parents.
I was given the honor of taking care of the team’s administration during such tournaments inside and outside of Cairo. I was 16-years-old at that time, and I was attending draw meetings representing my club, putting together summaries of matches for each player and taking care of the organization for hotel accommodations, transportation and meals plus playing as well. It gave me a strong foundation within the ETTF in the areas of dealing with competition management, officials, umpires and top players.
The next important step in my table tennis life was in 1988 during the organization of the Arab Championships in Cairo. The ETTF at that time was chaired by Mr. Hussein Sabbour. He assigned me to assist the tournament director. Since he knew me from the shooting club, he asked me to look after the administration of the national teams including the international communication. That is how I started to attend World Championships since 1989 in Dortmund. I found a great pleasure for sport administration and competition management.
In 1991 I was lucky that the company I was working for, NCR, was responsible to do programming & IT management for the 5th All Africa Games in Cairo. Because of my background in the sport and rules, I was assigned to cover the table tennis program and games, which gave me a great opportunity for exposure in Egypt and Africa.
Then I was elected Assistant Secretary General for ETTF during 1992-2000, followed by President of ETTF during 2000-2004. I was also elected Executive Vice President (Marketing) for the African Table Tennis Federation from 1996-2010, followed by President of ATTF from 2010 till now.
How can the ATTF help the ITTF be in the Top 5 IFs in the world, and TT to be in the Top 5 in sports?
- Now, as the ITTF has reached the current highest number of affiliated Associations (220) together with Volleyball, there are about seven remaining associations, and five of them are from Africa. We have 49 national associations out of 54 in our continent. Those that remain not yet affiliated are Cape Verde, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe, and South Sudan. The ATTF is working very hard together with the ITTF Development Program to fulfill the affiliation procedure for those five associations. In doing that, the ITTF would fly alone with the top record as the #1 international federation.
- The ATTF achieved the full mark of conducting its planned annual Development activities successfully since Mr. Cherif Hajem served as the President of the ATTF. We are working hard to keep the record every year without missing any Development Program activities.
- We started to improve our ATTF competitions with a more professional organization and with media/TV coverage during the last 4 years. We will continue all efforts together with the ITTF/TMS to ensure reaching the top level at ITTF events with our next continental title events.
- We are planning to get more associations in Africa to take part in our competitions through participation in zonal qualification events prior to the top annual event, the ITTF-Africa Cup.
Adham is very smart. He did a lot during his presidency to promote the sport of table tennis and to build a very strong international federation. As I mentioned, I have been attending the World Championships and ITTF Congress meetings since 1989. So I recognized how much of a difference Adham has made starting in 1999 during his leadership of the Congress, Board of Directors and other meetings. These are some of his major accomplishments:
- He led the revolution of our sport to overcome any boredom and to promote marketing through changing the rules for the ball diameter, implementing the 11-points game score, mandating clear service, improving uniform colors and enlarging the advertising area within the court and on players’ clothing.
- His leadership during all meetings was very smooth and intelligent. The best final conclusions were reached with no problems and on time.
- There has been strong media coverage on the ITTF website, with streaming and TV for all events.
- His main talent is to select the best person to do each job, and to extract the maximum outcome from all staff. That is evidenced by the excellent work done and progress achieved in all ITTF departments -- Administration, Development, Education and Training, Competitions, Operations and Marketing.
- He set up a continental affiliation procedure to develop and promote the activities in all of the continents. This has helped us in Africa to increase the number of development activities, obtain equipment packages, promote marketing resources and further professionalize the organization of our continental events to be similar to ITTF events. In some continents, this would not be possible without the help of the ITTF. That is evidenced by having for the first time a Title Sponsor for our African Senior Championships that were held in Cairo, Egypt in November of 2012, due to the great exposure facilities on itTV for the event and the professional organization supported by the ITTF.
- Finally, the integration of all ITTF parties -- the Executive Committee, Continents, Staff, Committees, Technical Officials, National Associations & Athletes – has led to Table Tennis being #1 in development activities among all other sports, resulting in the ITTF winning the most awards and trophies for humanitarian projects recently.
Thank you, Khaled, for your long-time service to the sport and for participating in the Countdown series.