USA Table Tennis What's New 87-Day Countdown to ...

87-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

By Sheri Cioroslan | June 06, 2014, 5 p.m. (ET)

Day 87, June 6 - Striving to Be Ranked in the Top 5 in All We Do 

Adham ShararaLast January ITTF President Adham Sharara shared the Executive Committee’s vision for the future.  And it has a code name:  “DBI and P5.” 

It is the ITTF’s unprecedented and bold call to its member associations and other stakeholders to work together to vault our sport toward achieving a “Top 5” ranking across the board in every category currently being measured. 

Finding the Inspiration

ITTF President Sharara explained that a few years ago he was delighted to discover that the ITTF’s website, as measured by objective criteria by an outside source,, was regularly ranking around #3 in popularity, compared with the websites of all other international federations (IFs) participating in the Olympic Games. 

That piqued his interest.  He began a fact-finding process.  He conducted numerous Internet searches.  His mission was to answer the questions, “What other IF rankings exist and how do we compare?”  

Gauging Our Status

His searches revealed several studies and surveys evaluating the world’s sports.  At least 12 of them had table tennis listed in the top 10, but never in the top 5.  Football/soccer usually scored #1.  Cricket appeared in the top 5 in 50% of the surveys.  Swimming was also consistently ranked higher than table tennis.

Those findings stirred the president to set a simple, yet challenging, objective for the ITTF:  in everything we do, be in the Top 5!  This applies to our website, our World Championships, our development program, etc.  

Consulting with the IOC

After his re-election in Paris, President Sharara approached the IOC to gather more information.  The IOC already conducts its own assessment of sports in the Olympic program.  About 17 categories with numerous subcategories (adding up to approximately 40 criteria in total) are measured.  While the IOC once more-or-less published their findings, it now releases information pertinent to each sport only to its IF.

President Sharara shared his objective and encouraged the IOC to discuss our comparative strengths and weaknesses.  He learned that we are already in the top 5 in terms of tv viewers during the Olympics and also in percentage of seats filled among all tickets available (99.2%) at the Olympics.  A weak area, conversely, was print media, where the ITTF ranked #17.

This revelation, combined with his own admission that even as the ITTF president, he might not even be aware of 40% of our own Olympic development activities, led him to the frank conclusion that we don’t promote our sport enough.  We need to be bolder.  We have to mention what we do well.  If we are a sport of introverts, we have to overcome that barrier.  We have to be our own advocate.  

Developing the P5 and DBI  

We need to promote our sport!  And, that “P” for “promotion” fit in nicely with President Sharara’s previously espoused “P4 Plan,” dating back to his original election in 1999.  The P4 Plan called for the ITTF to set Popularity, Participation, Profit and Planning as the ITTF’s primary objectives.

President Sharara determined that the implementation of the P5 Plan requires the ITTF to move forward by establishing two parameters: 1) the human resources/skill set available and 2) how much money can be directed toward achieving the desired objectives. 

Our tool for moving forward, he disclosed, is the codename DBI.  It stands for Data-Base Intelligence.  DBI will be utilized to develop four databases: 1) Volunteer Resources; 2) Professional Resources; 3) Financial Resources and 4) Goals & Objectives. 

Always keeping in mind the overall goal “to move up to the Top 5,” the ITTF has already asked interested parties to provide details about their volunteer interests and their professional capacities.  Solicitation of strategic input for goals and objectives from elected volunteers, officials and experts at international and continental levels as well as national associations and ITTF staff has also already begun. 

Addressing the financial side, the ITTF will strive to forecast within 5% how much revenue it will generate for the quad.  After ensuring that the ITTF’s reserve will be equal to one year of operational expenses, the ITTF’s newly-formed Finance Committee will allocate the spending on this “Top 5 in all we do” initiative to an amount that neither overspends nor underfunds the ultimate objective. 

Merging all of the information gleaned from the steps described above, President Sharara has promised to deliver the P5/DBI plan to the ITTF’s Executive Committee at its meeting in December 2014, a few months after Thomas Weikert takes over as the ITTF’s 7th president.  

It is expected that around that time, the Executive Committee will set its short-term (2015-2016), medium term (2017-2020) and “flex-time” (ongoing) goals and objectives.  Similarly, by year-end 2014, the ITTF will establish performance indicators to measure progress and success of the plan.

What this will mean for the ITTF is change.  It’s another step toward modernizing our federation and embracing a call for new ideas.  Keeping in mind that some “crazy” ideas of the past are now considered to be the norm, all ideas are welcome. 

Seeking Your Participation

To participate, please send an email to listing your educational and professional background, your areas of volunteer interest, and your strategic suggestions.