At least 15 Somali table tennis referees on Saturday attended a 6-day-long ITTF-sponsored training course. A colorful ceremony to mark the launching of the high level course was held at the Shamow hotel in Mogadishu in the presence of high profile Somali sporting dignitaries.
Somali Table tennis federation acting president Abdullahi Isse told the opening ceremony, that his federation spent a lot of time getting such a course from the international table tennis federation, which finally sent its instructor to teach the Somali referees.
The Egyptian ITTF instructor Mohamed Rafaat Bassyouni told the ceremony that both countries and people are brothers and have long-existing bilateral relations adding that he was jubilant at spending a week in Somalia.
“I am very happy to come here in Mogadishu, I always read in the news headlines elsewhere in the world about killings, explosions and wars in Somalia, but when I arrived here in Mogadishu the situation is completely different from what I was expecting,” Mr. Bassyouni said.
“During my stay here with you I will give you my experience and knowledge and I want you to pass what you have learned from here to the other referees in Somalia who haven’t got the chance for such a course,” the ITTF instructor told the participants.
Somali National Olympic committee senior vice president for international relations Duran Ahmed Farah noted that Somalia was very pleased to show the world that after decades of war, the country’s sport is recovering from years of setbacks and that international instructors can arrive here.
“We are very happy to welcome our Brother Mohamed Rafaat Bassyouni to Somalia – we hope that his arrival will pave the way for the arrivals of many international instructors of different sports to help us upgrade the knowledge of Somali sporting volunteers” Duran emphasized.
“Somali NOC is very grateful to ITTF for giving us such a very precious course – this is not only a training, but it will give the world an example that Somalia is emerging from years of conflicts,” Duran noted, adding that this was the first time in many years that an international level sports instructor arrived to conduct a course in war-weary Somalia.
The president of the Somali National Olympic committee Aden Hajji Yeberow for his part, said that it was a great dignity and honor for Somali NOC and its member federations, to welcome an international instructor in the country, where it was impossible to organize such a course just a few months ago.
“This was part of Somali NOC work plan of the year and it is a good start for Somali Olympics and its member federations. We are very grateful to the instructor for becoming the first to show the world sport that Somalia is currently more safe than ever before, and sport is growing” the NOC president said, at the opening ceremony.
Hours before the course commenced, Somali Sports Medical association Chairman Dr. Abdi Ibrahim Ahmed conducted a medical check up session, to ensure the health of the trainees.
Dr. Ahmed is the leader of a group of Somali volunteer doctors who usually receive drought-displaced families from southern regions on arrival outside Somali capital Mogadishu, in a bid to provide life-saving medical assistance for the famine-victims.
The Egyptian international instructor Mohamed Rafaat Bassyouni will be teaching the course until it comes to conclusion on Thursday next week.