The third edition of the annual New Horizon Open Table Tennis Championships will take place this weekend at Gaborone Secondary School.
New Horizon Table Tennis Club official Marang Ramahobo said at least 200 players have expressed interest taking part.
He indicated that though the numbers of participants in the championship dropped this past year, they are expecting some of the country’s best players to once again grace this year’s championships.
According to Ramahobo, when the championship debuted in 2014, at least 107 participants competed. The number of participants, however, fell this past year, with just 84 players competing.
“For this edition of the championships, we went all out and lobbied our local ranked players to compete and the response has been positive,” he explained.
Ramahobo says they had also managed to convince the tournament’s defending champion, Terrence Mathole of South Africa, to come and defend his title.
Asked what could have led to the slump, Ramahobo said this was likely due to the absence of the championships in 2015.
“In 2015 the tournament was not held, as the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) could not give us a slot on their calendar. Perhaps that is why the participation declined,” Ramahobo said.
The organisers say competitors in this year’s edition will compete in a range of categories, being cadets for those under the age of 15 years, junior (under 18 years) youth (under 21 years), men and women singles, team categories as well as the Elite Category, which is open for all.
Meanwhile, the New Horizon Table Tennis Club official has confirmed the organisers are struggling to find sponsors for the tournament.
“To be honest, most of the players are competing for the love of the sport,” said Ramahobo, who explained that the winner of the Elite Category at the championship will pocket a measly P900.
“We are struggling but the tournament has to go on. We are therefore still appealing to those who can help to come forward and make pledges,” he said.
So far, the tournament’s biggest sponsor is Brode Geo Designs, who has pledged P4000 towards the championships.
“This sponsorship is just enough to cover expenses for the venue, medals as well as prizes for the junior categories,” Ramahobo explained.