Lotus River umpire bags international licence

Group picture 2020-style. ..Duinefontein Table Tennis Club chairman, Wafeeq Domingo, from Lotus River, and fellow Cape Town Table Tennis officials all smiles after they completed their ITTF International Umpires exams. Also pictured, in front, are Cape Town Table Tennis chairman Junaid Baig (Community House Table Tennis Club), left, and Celeste Nomdo (Top Table Tennis Club). At back are Yunus Moyce (Bishop Lavis Table Tennis Club), Stanford Nomdo (Top Table Tennis Club) and Genevieve Lentz.

Picture: Fuad Esack

The former accountant turned businessman was among a number of Cape Town Table Tennis match officials who sat down to take their International Umpires Examination.

Domingo has been involved with the sport since the mid-90s as player and club administrator.

A behind-the-scenes mover and shaker, the last thing Domingo had on his mind was sitting down for this particular exam.

Opportunity came knocking unexpectedly last year when he was asked by senior officials if his home-based club could serve as a venue for a national umpires exam.

One thing led to another and soon he was requested by the facilitor to take a shot at obtaining his national licence.

Although it’s been a while since he’s cracked the books and, despite not having had much exerience as an umpire, Domingo pulled it off to become a nationally accredited umpire.

Taking his chances on earning an international accreditation was one not to be missed. Now he can perform duty at the highest level, if called upon.

“Umpiring is really not my thing. I’m usually the guy controlling the umpires but I’m glad I did it,” he said.

Ultimately, nine out of 10 candidates from clubs across the city, passed their exams, with one dropping out due to a bad internet connection, said Cape Town Table Tennis (CTT) umpires convenor Genevieve Lentz, from Bonteheuwel.

Lentz, who obtained her international umpires qualification in 2006, knows all too well about the stresses of preparing for these exams.

However, she is also very much aware of the rewards that come with obtaining the necessary credits to officiate at the highest level.

In 2017 she became the first female table tennis referee in Africa and did duty at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in Beijing and London, respectively.

Since then she’s made it her mission to encourage others to follow suit.

As part of a plan to develop umpires in Cape Town, she conducted various workshops prior to the lockdown. “Subsequently, the SA Table Tennis Board asked me to conduct level 3 and 4 umpires courses to prepare the candidates for the International Umpires exam,” she said.

Cape Town Table Tennis chairman, Junaid Baig, said the examination is conducted every two years and the candidates are endorsed by the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB).

Baig, who is among those who successfully completed the exam, said this year’s exam was challenging in unexpected ways.

“The experience was undoubtedly different. In a Covid-19 world we had to adapt or risk being left behind. There was an added pressure. During 2018, only one individual passed the examination nationally.

“Cape Town Table Tennis saw 10 candidates prepare for the International Umpires Examinations.

“No mass gatherings being allowed and no flights resulted in the planned International Umpires workshops being cancelled,” Baig said.

He said the SATTB chose to conduct the workshops on a digital platform and these were held on the two Saturday’s preceding the examination date.

These workshops lasted an average of eight hours.

“The journey to become an (International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) International Umpire for table tennis is not a path that one chooses but rather a calling.

“It often involves the evolution of players into technical officials. It is by no means an easy path,” he said

“It is also noteworthy,” he said, “that four of the candidates obtained results in the 90 percentile range. Bare in mind, only 13 candidates passed nationally,” he said.