ITTF.com – The dust has settled, now the Perfect 2016 World Championships, which concluded in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday 6th March, are resigned to the archives of history; for three young people in particular it was an extremely busy time but one that will live clearly in their memory for many years to come.
Undoubtedly for Neha Aggarwal, Amy Ding and Robert Sticht, the three young people who received the ITTF Media Scholarships, a very special experience.
Neha Aggarwal, India international and a member of Team Asia at the 2005 ITTF Cadet Challenge, reports on eight days to remember.
Reflections on Media Internship: “Perfect” Eight Memorable Days
As I stepped inside the cab departing the Malawati Indoor Stadium for the final time, I took a moment to reminiscence the last eight days I spent on my first official work assignment. I took a deep breath and gushes of emotions ran inside my heart. Eight days of competition brought together 96 different countries and 670 athletes who played 2,102 matches, 7,997 games and 146,469 points!
That is the magnitude of the World Table Tennis Championship. I was yet to finish my final feature article of the day. Thus, as I began to write, my eyes were moist to know that from this very moment, the last eight days will become a life-long cherished memory.
The recipients of the prestigious ITTF Media Internship for the Perfect 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championship held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 28th February to 6th March were:
……….myself, a former Indian Olympian and currently a student of Sports Management at Columbia University, New York,
……….Amy Ding, a 23 year old postgraduate student at the University of International Relations in China and a reporter for the magazine Table Tennis World,
……….Robert Sticht, a student of sports management in Germany, who also worked at the press department for the famous German club Borussia Düsseldorf.
We worked together with the ITTF media team of Matt Pound (Promotion and Media Manager), Caifeng Yang (Marketing and Branding Coordinator), Ian Marshall (Publications Editor), Rémy Gros (ITTF Photographer), Matt Solt (Statistics), Adam Bobrow (commentary, voice overs and interviews) and video team of Joachim Davy and Christian Ortner.
It’s different experience when you enter the World Championship as an athlete and a completely different one when you are part of ITTF media: suddenly, my words, thoughts and ideas would reach the 1.3 million table tennis fans around the globe. My major responsibilities were running the ITTF Social Media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat) and writing featured articles for the website.
The four social media platforms require a different type of content, thus, every day I would be juggling between the main hall and the second hall to find interesting stories for the fans to enjoy.
A favourite part of the day was to interview the players and officials for my feature article. I had met and competed against all these elite athletes while I was playing for India but in Kuala Lumpur, I had the opportunity to talk to them in detail and know their stories first hand.
My most stirring moment was when I interviewed the players and coach of the Iranian Women’s Team who won the Third division. I learned about their breath taking struggles and sacrifices as women from a third world country tried to make their presence felt in their own nation and society.
It gave me jitters and a huge responsibility to let their voices heard globally via my article. I was also amazed to see how humble and fun the top Chinese and Japanese players are.
My posts on Snapchat, a platform I love because of its ability to engage with fans one to one, allowed me to tell completely different behind the scene entertaining stories of the tournament and be as creative as possible. Snapchat is the next big social platform and thus it was a huge opportunity as I was the sole contributor to those stories.
Amy Ding, who managed the Chinese Social media, rejoices, “It is really a great honour for me to experience my first World Table Tennis Championship as part of the ITTF media team.
During the eight days, I learned a lot. I was majorly responsible for Chinese social media. The most impressive memory for me is that I did my first on court translation before thousands of audiences. I was so nervous before the event but our teammates encouraged me all the time and gave me a lot of confidence.
Definitely, it’s their trust that gave me the courage to stand on court. Things go back to normal after #ITTFWorlds2016 but I do miss those days in KL and really appreciate for this life-long experience.”
Under Matt’s leadership we all thrived well as he encouraged us to incorporate our own ideas in our work. As Amy said, his support and encouragement helped us perform certain tasks we did for the first time that required courage and grit.
Matt gave me a beautiful opportunity to do my first ever on camera interview with the legend Jörgen Persson and a Facebook live interview with the bronze medal winning men’s team from England.
Robert Stitch, who became an expert in gaining flash quotes and tweeting, explains, “I was very happy to be part of the ITTF Media Team during the World Team Table Tennis Championships. I had interesting tasks. Sometimes it was not so easy to fulfil them because you couldn’t be in the main hall and the second hall at the same time.
There were also some problems with the venue and all was not easy for us but we had a great team spirit and all of us tried to do their best. I learned many new things and got to know how the ITTF worked.
It was impressive how big the Championships are with an immense global reach and is one of the biggest sport events in the world. We had the freedom to develop own ideas. That was fantastic. It was an honour and an incredible opportunity to work for the ITTF. I will never forget the atmosphere on the last day. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
It’s overwhelming to know that we contributed towards the event which smashed all social media and digital records. The ITTF Facebook page reached close to 34 million impressions, two million twitter impressions and Sina Weibo (Chinese version of Facebook and Twitter) reached close to 5.4 million views.
Experiencing the World Championships with the ITTF Family was an exciting yet challenging experience. Along with the team, we worked for 14-15 hours a day under tremendous pressure. There were times when we would make mistakes too, but Matt and Caifeng guided us well and helped us get better with each passing day.
We not only learned new skills but also learned the role and responsibility of media in such a magnificent global event. In the process, we made great friends in a matter of just eight days. My professors back at Columbia admired: “This internship is a great path for young professionals looking to get their foot in the sports business world. The diversity of the tasks offered gives students an all over learning experience in sports media.”
For Amy and Robert and I, this experience was one of the most memorable ones of our lives. We thank the ITTF for giving us such a wonderful opportunity, it not only helped us better understand our own strengths and abilities, but also brought us closer to the sport of Table Tennis we love so dearly.