World Refugee Day: Fun with Table Tennis while Seeking Safety

Photo: ITTF Foundation Dream Building with Refugees, Za'atari Camp, Jordan.


The ITTF Foundation has launched a series of training in two refugee establishments in Leipzig, Germany. The eight-week training session is the pilot of a potential long-term project aiming to bring fun and physical activities to those seeking safety in a country that they have not yet called home.

Having to flee from your home country is undoubtedly one of the most traumatic experiences one could experience. The amount of stress leads to a negative impact on cognition, emotion, and behaviours, as well as on the physical level of the fugitives. With this eight-week training session, the ITTF Foundation wishes to reduce the stress level of those taking refuge in Leipzig with creative and engaging table tennis activities.

Table tennis is for everyone, regardless of where you come from and what language you speak. The fun and benefits transcend cultural differences and provide a great distraction for the participants from the uncertainties they face, helping them build confidence that is crucial for integration. Through playing and doing tasks together, participants will create new social bonds and strengthen the existing relationships. - Sarah Falczyk, our Table Tennis for Refugee Intern, certified C-level coach, and Bachelor in Sports Science.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to table tennis training. In addition to reducing the stress level of refugees, the pilot projects also seek to gain practical experience to optimise the current model to better meet the needs of the target group.

One aspect of being an inclusive sport is to observe and respect the differences between our project participants. The differences could be the result of culture, upbringing, as well as the experience one has had. Our trainer on site has reported valuable insight and observations that will help us improve the project, making it more sustainable and beneficial in terms of the way we communicate and train with the participants. Our ultimate goal is to create resources on how to use table tennis for refugee integration, and Leipzig is where we begin to gain experience and results that we can later share with other organisations that are willing to do the same. - Leandro Olvech, ITTF Foundation Director.

The ITTF Foundation believes that it is a fundamental human right to participate in sport, in safety, or while seeking safety. We call out to all ITTF Member Associations and the worldwide table tennis community to support the solidarity of those taking refuge in a foreign land due to all current, and past warfare.  

Together, we are stronger.



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