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Murtoa’s Glenn Tepper takes table tennis to the world

Glenn Tepper, left.

Glenn Tepper, left.


By DEAN LAWSON
A high-ranking international sporting official originally from Murtoa has chalked up a rare milestone likely to make him the envy of organisations around the world.
Glenn Tepper, 55, has managed to bring every country on the planet as well as several territories together under a global sporting membership through table tennis.
Every country now has a formal body and relationship with International Table Tennis Federation.
Mr Tepper, a former national table tennis representative and coach and physical education teacher, ticked the final box with the foundation of the Guinea Bissau Table Tennis Federation. It followed the signing up of three other groups representing Cape Verde, Eritrea and the Bahamas.
Mr Tepper, now deputy chief executive of an organisation overseeing one of the biggest participation sports in the world, has been working to achieve the milestone for 18 years.
“In 1999 the federation appointed a new president who was very innovative. It was one of the tasks he gave me,” he said.
“I suspect he was half joking at the time, but I’m very proud we’ve been able to achieve it.
“We started with 180 member countries and had 46 to get, and to be honest, we didn’t want to do it in a hurry.
“There was a lot of work with existing international members and the idea was to add two or three a year in a progressive and sustainable way and not let any fall through the cracks.
“The United Nations officially has something like 205 officially recognised countries. We’ve signed up 226.
“It’s a long way from playing in the Maydale Pavilion in Horsham.”
Mr Tepper said table tennis, with 20-million registered players in China alone and soccer its only rival for international participation levels, had a major role to play that went beyond sport.
“We do a lot of work with the United Nations and the sport plays a significant part in many humanitarian projects,” he said.
“It goes back to the days of ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970s when it was used to open the doors to China.
“We use table tennis as a vehicle for social change. For example, we have many projects in refugee camps.
“One of my mottos is that ‘every table is a table tennis table’.”
Murtoa
Mr Tepper grew up playing table tennis in Murtoa, the eldest sibling in a family that also included Olympian Kerri and similarly talented Jan and Ross.
He left the Wimmera for tertiary studies in 1979, was a teacher for 10 years, competed internationally and had various roles in the sport including Australian head coach.
He is now based in Byron Bay but travels regularly to International Table Tennis Federation headquarters in Switzerland. There is also an office in Singapore.
He said he tried to travel home to the Wimmera at least once a year to visit his parents, Merv and Margaret.
“At the top end of the sport we have a growing professional league, a world tour and world junior circuit,” he said.
“We have our world championships at the end of the month in Germany.
“If you look at it from a development model we are focusing on providing many steps in a pyramid.
“This means that some kid in Murtoa, for example, can make his or her way to the top.”

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Posted on May 17 2017

Posted by on May 17 2017. Filed under News, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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