In his remark at the opening ceremony of the Tournament, Ambassador WU Peng expressed his condolences for those who died during the August 14th disaster and noted that, the attendance of the young men and women at the table tennis tournament signal a sign of “courage, resilience and optimism for future”. However, he was convinced that the great Sierra Leonean people would recover from the natural disaster very quickly.
Ambassador WU also extended his warmest welcome to the young players and revealed that table tennis was as popular to Chinese just like football to Sierra Leoneans. He emphasized that table tennis was like a way of life for hundreds of millions of people that help them stay healthy and improved the quality of their lives.
To conclude,Ambassador WU Peng thanked the First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma for her constant support to the cooperation on youth and female affairs between the two countries. And saying that there is a popular Chinese slogan Friendship First, Competition Second, hoping all players to come up with their best performance and demonstrate their great sportsmanship while strengthening mutual friendship through competition.
The First Lady gave a detail background of the Table Tennis history, and thanked the Ambassador for his kind invitation to her to attend the tournament. She said with support from the Chinese Embassy, they have been able to get some items for the sport, including table tennis which would be distributed across some secondary schools in Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni. The First Lady,as a table tennis player noted that,she fell in love with the table tennis when she visited China in 2008 firstly contacted with this sport. And in the past, she has organized summer camp table tennis for children and there were plans to introduce the sport to all schools across the country which she said would require much more effort.
She also thanked the Ambassador for China prompt response in the wake of the August 14 mudslide and flooding disaster wherein both the Chinese government, Chinese Red Cross Society and the Chinese community in the country donated over $ 1million in cash and in relief items for the disaster victims.
The Hon. Minister of Sports and Minister of Youth Affairs also thanked the Chinese Embassy for the support towards the development of Sierra Leone’s sports and youth.
At last,the First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma and the President of Sierra Leone Table Tennis AssociationMr. Alieplayed a friendly match to kickoff the tournament.
The tournament was extended on Sunday 3rd September which attracted 32 young players from different districts of Sierra Leone.