Cyprus has not been a major force in table tennis and will, possibly, never become one in the immediate future.
But the Mediterranean country Association’s programmes and policies, according to the team (men and women) coach Adrian Simion, provide a ray of hope for the next generation of players.
“We have our own Association Stadium which could accommodate 12 tables. We have three coaches assisting me. The National Association is providing the players with all the assistance and support. We have several kids competing in International Table Tennis Federation age group events around the globe. I am hopeful that things will develop in the longer run,” he said.
The 36-year-old Romanian insisted that the biggest challenge facing the sport in the country was neither the system nor the infrastructure, but the attitude of the players’ themselves.
“It has to do with the mentality of the players. They really don’t realise the importance of practicing every day. They are not ready to put in the required hard yards,” felt Simion.
In the last edition of the Commonwealth championships held in 2013 in New Delhi, Cyprus team failed to qualify but in the men's singles, Marios Yiangou, entered the pre-quarterfinals, which till date remains the best achievement by a Cypriot.
Moreover, table tennis is not a priority sport as football and basketball take precedence. Further, education trumps ‘em all.
“Players play till they are 18 years old and after that we don’t get to see them,” remarked Simion. “And the sport is not (seen/read) much in the media even though we are trying our best.”
Andreas Georgiou, President of Cyprus National table tennis Association, mentioned that the players receive good exposure when the country hosts the Cyprus International friendship tournament at its Hall in Nicosia, the capital city, where Greece and Romania among other countries regularly take part.
Though Cyprus has been a regular participant in the Commonwealth championships, it has never gone past the first stage.
“We want to do one better this time here (in Surat),” said the coach.