Absent from the Canadian scene for more than thirty years, thanks to the initiative of a newcomer, table tennis has reorganized itself in the province. Less than two years after the reconstitution of the New Brunswick Table Tennis Association (NBTA) and rejoining Canada in table tennis, the province’s delegation heads to its first Atlantic Championship in several decades this weekend in Charlottetown.
27 athletes will travel from New Brunswick to the island’s capital. “Standard mandate” according to some.
The chief responsible for this resurrection is Virgilio Vitter Santos, president of ATTNB.
“I got to the county in 2018 and there was nothing regulated,” Santos says.
“After speaking with Michele (Ecchi) – another Brazilian -, Ingrid McPhee (who actually represented the county in the 1980s under the name Ingrid Martini) in Moncton, as well as Allen Maltes of Bathurst, after a few contests and after getting to know each other better, we decided to revive Assembly from its ashes.”
In June 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, New Brunswick returned to Canadian Table Tennis (TTC).
Few French speakers
Among the Francophones in the delegation, there is Alain Malthés who collaborates with his son, Danic Malthés. He also paired up with Mr. Santos for the Charlottetown competitions.
“On the competitive side, I have been playing table tennis since 2015,” explains Mr. Maltais, who is from Campbellton. After two or three years, my son Danic joined me,” he explains, not a bit proud.
If Allen is involved in restarting the Society, he remains humble about his involvement and refuses to acknowledge it.
“I helped find people to start the business, but I didn’t want to be fully involved in its process. We leave that to the good care of Virgilio in Saint-Jean. It has grown a lot since its inception two years ago.
Among the 27 participants, three four-player squads represent the county (senior, men’s and women’s, and junior) in team competitions.
These teams are selected according to the players’ standings by Table Tennis Canada (TTC), according to points earned in official competitions. Mr. Santos explains that there weren’t enough female players to make up a women’s junior team this time around.
The other participants in the delegation are chosen by the regional association, which determines the best hopes among the players who wish to score.
The two youngest athletes in the delegation also speak French: brothers Oliver (10) and Harrison (12) Woodworth, of Petitcodiac, who respectively attend Saint Bernadette Schools in Moncton and Le Mascaret in Dieppe. They form the junior team with Ali and Hisham El Barki, another fraternal duo who live in Saint-Jean.
The Woodworth brothers, who qualified first and second in the regional tournament, have been playing the sport together for nearly three years.
“We were on vacation in the States, right before COVID, when the guys discovered a table tennis in the hotel, explains Stephanie, a mother of two. They played for several hours. When we got back, we decided to buy a table for Christmas…”
Buy in time, a few months before the epidemic.
“They’ve played a lot in the last couple of years, especially during confinement. In September we found out there was a table tennis club in Moncton. It’s a great, great club. The participants were very warm and welcomed my young friends.”
Oliver and Harrison now have a chance to take on the best of the Atlantic, a new opportunity missed by an entire generation of table tennis players.
Hisham El Barky
Jia, Jian Wei
Santos, Virgilio Veter
Manatad, Ken Ezra
Youssef El Khoury
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