Member Associations | 23 Aug 2021
The Future is looking bright for NETU
During the 16-22 August, the NETU SUPERWEEK took place in Halmstad - the host city for the 2018 World Team Championships.
The Superweek started out as an initiative by the member countries in the North European Table Tennis Union (NETU) comprising Denmark, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Sweden with support from the European Table Tennis Union. The week was a very busy one with events, conference and training camp, built into one concept fully designed to address gender equality and how to grow the number of female athletes and coaches in table tennis.
The NETU Superweek commenced with the invitational tournament Pro Series – six players only – where Danish star Mie SKOV ended up as the winner.
On Wednesday the official training camp was on the schedule. 32 players from 9 countries participated in the categories top female players and U 15 (cadets). The responsible coaches from Sweden well known profiles Anders THUNSTRÖM and Mikael ANDERSSON with an impressive coaching track record together with Maria CHRISTOFORAKI and Tobias BERGMAN working together with coaches from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Greenland and Latvia.
On Friday, NETU also held their bi-annual Congress. A number of questions and ideas were raised regarding future cooperation and championships. A new NETU president was also elected. The President-in-office, Peter SUNDBÆK was resigning after one term in office and replaced by Betina KOEFOED, also from Denmark. She was very satisfied with the starting point of her presidency.
“I felt that since Peter decided to stop down I think Denmark needs to take responsibility in this group. I have been encouraged to put my name forward by several persons that I have great confidence in and I hope to bring structure and increase the level of cooperation and discussions in the NETU group, also in between our meetings. This week has been a great step in the right direction and I feel very inspired”, said the newly elected President, Betina KOEFOED.
Host nation and initiator, the Swedish Table Tennis Association, worked hard with the preparations and was equally happy with the outcome.
“I am very happy and grateful for everyone who participated with such enthusiasm and passion. This event has by far exceeded our expectations. In my opinion we have created a great platform to develop our cooperation even further through teamwork. The questions that were raised during the weekend are also ones that I carry close to my heart of. With this cooperation, I am convinced that we now have the tools to succeed in the quest to grow the number of females in our sport,” said Swedish Table Tennis Association President, Petra SÖRLING.
The weekend was also the kickstart for the conference. Petra SÖRLING, Swedish President and ITTF President Candidate opened with a keynote speech about her vision and experience of modern leadership that she has developed in her business life as well as a leader within table tennis career.
The floor was then given to Sofia B KARLSSON from the Swedish Sports Confederation who addressed gender equality and inclusion in Swedish sports.
On Saturday the tournament NETU Top 16 started with the group stage. 18 players in the women’s event and 16 in the U 15 were lined up to compete about the unofficial titles as NETU Top 16 champions. The prize money was also distributed: for the winner 1000 Euros, for the runner-up 500, for third place 250 and for fourth place 250.
The conference rolled on and Coopted ETTU EB member and ETTU athletes commission chair, Galia Dvorak created a lot of thoughts with her inspirational keynote speech about gender equality in our sport and also showed some real world examples.
Maria CHRISTOFORAKI, a former Greek national team player now living in Sweden told the audience about her journey from Greece to Sweden and how challenges and setbacks formed her career. Maria CHRISTOFORAKI is currently appointed as an assistant coach for the Swedish Junior National Team.
Saturday´s last session was all about education. Professor Urban JOHNSON from the University of Halmstad talked about their tailor made educational program PIKA which is aimed towards elite athletes who wants to combine sports with an academic career. The University cooperates with the local table tennis club in Halmstad which is one of the most successful top table tennis environments in Sweden as well as the Swedish Table Tennis Association. The PIKA program is open for international students.
Last day of the NETU Top 16 was an exciting one. In the women´s event, Erika FRONTH managed to wrestle herself out of several tricky situations and could finally claim the gold medal. She defeated her national team colleague, Jennifer JONSSON in the finals. The youngest players showed some serious overall skills. Norwegian talent Christine KALVATN kept her game together and managed to beat Swede Josephina FRED in the finals.
The conference was ended with an inspirational session by former national team player Michaela KARLSSON. With a bachelor in sport science and master in sport psychology she addressed talent development through the scientific lens.
Support from the ETTU has been present since the idea was hatched even though the target group was the north European countries. Present at the NETU Superweek was also ETTU board member and Vice President, Ina JOZEPSONE also president Latvia TTA. She gave her thoughts about the event.
“The situation with gender equality in NETU is very promising. Among 10 NETU countries 4 leads by women. Now we have a lady also as a President of NETU. I want to say thank you to Swedish Table Tennis Association for the initiative and in this difficult time we are proud that we are together and have a real union in the north of Europe,” says Ina Jozepsone.
Cooperation and teamwork is the path towards the future that is what all the participants agreed upon. Perhaps the conclusion was best made by Petra SÖRLING, President Swedish Table Tennis Association.
“From being an idea, we have now given it wings. Now it´s free to fly off towards the future. I am positive that it will come back again, and why not in a bigger perspective, like a ”European superweek”, Petra SÖRLING concluded.