More than 600 athletes from across the country and beyond borders are expected to descend on Bloemfontein for the South African Junior and Senior National Table Tennis Championships that the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is hosting at the Tempe Military Base from July 6 to 12.
The annual tournament will also see 15 teams taking part.
Acting Mangaung mayor Papiki Moeng, who is also head of planning in the metro, said during a press briefing on Thursday the hosting of the tournament in the Free State capital would help establish the city as the country’s sporting mecca.
“It has the potential of growing our economy,” he told reporters.
“The teams coming here will have the latitude of visiting Naval Hill, our attraction site which is home to the Mandela statue, home to the first digital planetarium and the world-class restaurant situated at the top of the hill.”
Moeng added that those coming for the table tennis gala might also want to visit the historical Waaihoek Church in Mangaung where the ruling African National Congress party was founded in 1912.
Table Tennis South Africa national president Joe Carrim said the tournament was brought to the Free State province based on a conscious decision to rotate the championships rather than hosting all major events in the big cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The tournament in Bloemfontein would also have an international flavour, with participants from neighbouring countries expected to compete.
“We are even going to have teams from Botswana and Namibia coming to participate in the tournament,” Carrim said.
The Free State provincial government’s director of sports, Zola Thamaye, said her office was working hard to ensure all sporting disciplines, including table tennis, thrived in the province.
“We are particularly proud to be associated with table tennis,” she said.
“As the department, we will work to make sure that the sport is played in all the 82 towns in the Free State province.”
Thamaye added that the provincial government was through its Free State Sports Science Institute providing state-of-the-art facilities for sportspeople to excel.