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Hello <<First Name>>,

Welcome back! We at ITTF Foundation hope that you and your families are all safe and healthy. We used the festive season to wind down and recharge. But we are back now with new vigour and energy, motivated to see what comes next and starting to count down the days for April 6!

This year will be different – and it is your chance to make a difference! With your World Table Tennis Day (WTTD) event in 2021, you have the chance to make an impact and contribute to a good cause through our beloved sport. 2020 has been quite a ride, and we have all tried to make the best out of the difficult situations we had to face. In our 2020 review article, we took a moment to reminisce about how we adapted and what we have achieved in the past year.

April 6 and the next WTTD with the theme of gender equality and FEMpowerment is fast approaching. In these challenging times, people need some good news or rather something to look forward to – let it be your WTTD event! How to start organising it? Easy, start by answering the following questions:
  1. Are you organising it alone? Who could help? If you’re a team, brainstorm together!
  2. Who is your target group?
  3. What topic or issue would you like to address?
You already have a plan? Register your event here. You don’t really know where to start or need inspiration for your WTTD event? Then keep reading! Off to a fresh start, and in light of World Braille Day on January 4, we want to talk about one of the main principles of WTTD and how discrimination can sometimes take place unintentionally by the way we talk.

Inclusion and Diversity!

Inclusion constitutes one of the three pillars of WTTD. Being inclusive means proactive behaviours and actions in order to make people from all backgrounds, ages, genders and abilities feel welcome, respected and like they belong to the table tennis family. Being inclusive is about doing one’s best so that everyone can get the most out of participating in a sport and the community around it. So, treat others like you want to be treated!
 
Diversity describes the mixture and presence of different backgrounds – this can refer to race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation, for example. Inclusion and diversity directly relate to each other: Diversity is the mix of people and inclusion is the attempt to make the mix and differences work together smoothly.

Where to start?

Following the mentality of WTTD, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be actively involved in the sport they choose, in whatever capacity they want to. Hence, each sporting organisation should commit to inclusion and be open to all members of a community, regardless of gender, disability, cultural background, or other attributes that may lead to any person feeling excluded or isolated. However, many table tennis clubs are still missing out on entire groups of potential players, umpires, administrators or volunteers.

Inclusion across the field!

Para table tennis is the 3rd largest Paralympic sport in terms of athlete numbers. You can find professional table tennis accommodated for people with disabilities in more than 100 countries and territories. One way of being more inclusive can be making sure that your WTTD event is open to everyone. You can browse here to get inspired by activities that can be carried out by people with disabilities or impairments.
 
Tip: Raise awareness for game modifications and the rules of adapted table tennis or showdown! Showdown is a fast-moving sport which has originally been designed for – but is not limited to – visually impaired or blind people. Here you can find out more about table tennis for visually impaired players.

5 tips to put an end to discrimination

Discrimination can be expressed in ways which are not always obvious to the eye. Inclusive language starts with you! The language and behaviour e.g. a coach uses around their athletes sets the tone for others. This directly impacts the safety and well-being of all participants – and this in turn how athletes, especially the young ones, treat one another. Here are some general tips to help you create an inclusive and positive sports environment:
  • Put people first
    Don’t label people, get to know their individual needs and be understanding and sensitive of them.
  • Avoid assumptions
    Don’t assume gender or cultural background based on their appearance. Use the language or terms they use to describe themselves, e.g., respect their chosen pronouns.
  • Use gender-neutral language
    Avoid any word or phrases that have a negative connotation for athletes, parents and other coaches.
  • Inclusive phrases
    The small things such as being aware of wording and phrasing and how they might impact people can go a long way:
Non-inclusive wording
 
Inclusive wording
 
Hey guys! Hello everyone!
They are confined to a wheelchair. They use a wheelchair.
They suffer from Down syndrome. They were born with Down syndrome.
You play like a girl! / Man up!* You are not playing up to your potential right now.
*Disclaimer: We have previously used the phrase “Spin it like a girl!” referring to the Australian table tennis programme Girls Spinneroos in our latest newsletter (18 Dec 2020). This was in no way meant in a derogatory sense or to offend anyone, but instead was intended to empower and to break the stereotypical and prejudiced wording of “you play like a girl” if you are weak or a bad player.
  • Each situation can be a teaching opportunity
    By establishing a zero-tolerance for so-called ‘locker room talk‘ that makes fun of or puts other people down. While one may think it is only casual banter or a joke, it can, in fact, be very upsetting to somebody else. Don’t ignore such incidents, address each situation and turn it into a teaching opportunity. Discuss appropriate alternatives and explain that the language used was hurtful. However, make sure not to call them out but talk about it in a calm and gentle tone.
We are constantly looking for passionate individuals who want to make the most of the 2021 edition of WTTD and promote gender equality and FEMpowerment through table tennis. Do you want to become one of the selected WTTD Promoters or do you know somebody who is the perfect fit? Then apply here or send us your application at april6@foundation.ittf.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
 
Keep staying positive and testing negative!
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