• info@tabletennisnorth.ca

Five NWT players will soon travel south to compete at the national level

Five NWT players will soon travel south to compete at the national level

TT NORTH No Comment

The Yellowknife, July 5, 2024

The top players from the recent NWT Table Tennis Championships in Fort Providence will soon head south to compete at the national level.

The tournament occurred on Sunday, June 23. It was the first such event in seven years, but it went down as a great success, with about 15 competitors all told, including nine young people from elsewhere in the territory.

“We now have some very young players who are really excited about the sport and we want to just keep them engaged,” said Thorsten Gohl, the head coach of the NWT table tennis team. “We haven’t focused on tournaments because it’s a lot of work, but it seems that people would like to see more.”

Four people won trophies at the tournament. Fort Providence’s Kevin Canadien captured the youth singles category, and Yellowknife’s Akiko Iwase prevailed in the open singles category. The open doubles category was won by Kathleen Cai of Yellowknife and partner Neilson Vandell of Fort Providence.

While the excitement of the Fort Providence tournament is still fresh, a group of five NWT players are already looking ahead to an even bigger challenge.

On July 15, Cai will join Fort Providence’s Vandell, Canadien, Karissa Sadowick and Carter Sadowick for a two-day table tennis training camp in Ottawa. From there, the group will head on to the 2024 Canadian Table Ten- nis Championships, which will run from July 19-24 in Laval, Que.

Gohl said the territory’s athletes are per- forming very well for their level, but the trip to Quebec is more about enriching experiences than it is about bringing home trophies.

“It’s not about table tennis,” he said. “It’s

about creating opportunities and possibilities for our youth to become the best version of themselves. For us to send them to a Canadi- an tournament doesn’t mean that they need to excel and be high-performance athletes, it means that they’re travelling together, they’re building the culture together, they’re doing fundraising together, they’re training together.

“They’ll travel from Ontario to Quebec and then back, making friends there. We have a few mentors that are in Ottawa and from B.C. that are flying in too, so they’re trying to build that little bit of a community. Then hopefully when [the players] come back, they feel empowered and then everybody else that sees them wants to be empowered as well. [We’re] creating that circle of constant reinforcement.”

Gohl and his players have been hard at work fundraising for their journey to Ontario and Quebec. It’s an expensive trip, and progress has been somewhat “slow,” but the group has plans for a bake sale and a 50/50 draw that will add to the total they’ve already raised through their GoFundMe campaign, which is still open for donations.

Whatever happens at the coming tournament in Laval, Gohl hopes the members of Team NWT will enjoy themselves, and that their opportunity will inspire more young residents to get involved in table tennis.

The sport is a great way to keep young peo- ple out of trouble, he emphasized, and it is conveniently accessible, with a table, some paddles, and some balls being all that’s required to get going.

“Sports like this can be done anywhere, in any community,” he said. “For me, it can be the sport of the North, because it’s accessible during summer or winter in any spaces.

“It doesn’t need to be [played on] a profes- sional table, but I think we need to create the excitement around it.”

Are you interested in Table Tennis in the Northwest Territories?