In Malta table tennis is surprisingly popular – and is destined to become even more popular.
National league, regular tournaments, multiple privately owned table tennis academies, national rankings for adults, juniors and seniors – Malta offers a table tennis infrastructure like you wouldn’t expect from such a small island state between Sicily and Tunisia. On a surface of the size of Munich, spread over two main islands, live about 500,000 people – and 400 of them actively play table tennis. The Maltese national organisation that promotes this sport was founded in 1953 and is known as the Malta Table Tennis Association (MTTA).
Table tennis in Malta developed positively in recent years. Before Malta became an independent country in 1964, it was under British rule, and table tennis was introduced as a leisure sport. This changed over the years. The association set up a national league format in which over 40 teams battle for relegation and promotion between October and May every year. League matches and tournaments are played under professional conditions in Tal-Qroqq Sports Complex in Msida, close to the capital Valletta.
Valletta is also home to the popular HiTT Malta Table Tennis Academy. Mario Genovese founded this table tennis school on synthetic flooring and with 10 tables in 2012. Now HiTT Academy has 2 other centres, one with 10 tables in Pembroke and another with 6 tables in the centre of Malta in Birkirkara. Since then, many of the most successful teams and biggest talents of the island have originated from HiTT Academy. Their coach has nevertheless been until today unreachable in his success: Genovese, by now in his end 50s, is the most successful and well-known player in the history Maltese table tennis. In the 80s, he practiced in Japan and China and played as a pro for clubs in Great Britain, Norway, Sweden and Denmark with the likes of BTK Roskilde.
Malta presents itself on a regular basis on the big stage: the Malta Table Tennis Association sends their best players to both big tournaments like World and European Championships and smaller table tennis events where it has more chances to obtain favourable results. In the Small Nation Games, a multi-disciplinary competition for nine small European countries, Malta’s players have the potential to reach the front rankings. Malta is a big one among the small ones. Furthermore, the MTTA has been working closely with the Italian federation, providing opportunities for Maltese players to play in the Italian table tennis league. Already its unique location between the continents makes Malta significant on the international table tennis map: in the middle of the Mediterranean, Europe on one side and Africa on the other side.
This article was originally published on the prominent German Table Tennis Association’s magazine Tischtennis, available from the DTTB website: https://www.tischtennis.de/. Thanks to Ms Amke Fischer for providing the English translation.