Friday June 12th
I thought I would write an analysis of the new ITTA Selection Policy & Criteria after reading the document published on the ITTA website. I finally got to a conclusion four pages later and realised I had written one of the most boring articles I had ever done so, with a possible appeal to a very small minority of coaches and players. So I have decided to try and make my points in a much more concise manner.
The document purports to outline the criteria with an under lying value of “fairness, transparency, independency* and integrity.” In my mind the only “transparency” in regards to the document is the transparent attempt to be as ambiguous and vague as possible. In fact I wonder if the transparency referred to, can be equated to the ethereal and insubstantial use of the word rather than the clearness and precise term we generally use.
Here are a few examples of this ambiguity:
“Significant & note-worthy performances”
“A good quality attitude to training,”
“A professional and mannerly approach,”
“Willing to take challenges, alter style and pursue continuous improvement,”
How will these terms be assessed in anything other than a subjective manner, what quantitative basis can be made in regards to these issues? So basically it will come down to personal opinion and the document is purely there to justify this personal opinion. This is even underpinned in the Selection Procedure with the well turned phrase “National Coach(es) has predominant comment.” I don’t know if this is a legal term but is it just another way of saying, “what they say goes?”
Even the one quantitative aspect of selection through performance within the Irish Rankings is negated with the term “typically top 6 finishes.” So this mean a significant performance is regarded as a top 6 finish, when it suits the purpose of the selectors and untypically when it doesn’t.
There are a whole load of other issues surrounding this document but if the author’s brief was to be as vague, whoops “transparent” as possible then a job well done. If the “integrity” of this document is to be honest in its purpose to make a justification to select whoever suits their purpose then I compliment whoever came up with the “predominant comment” a master stroke in linguistic justification. Terms used like “suitable and preferably” are just further examples of being indistinct.
With so many open ended phrases and so little quantitative substantial terminology it would be impossible to challenge any decision, so having an “Appeals Process” has been made completely redundant, any “supporting evidence” could only be considered subjective and be successfully challenged by the HPC on grounds of being personal opinion rather than evidential.
I believe a much more transparent selection criteria should read: “We the High Performance Committee will select whoever we like. You can appeal it but you won’t win.” Now that has integrity.
Parents and Coaches you should also be aware that your junior/cadet, child/player will now be required to train for 12+hrs/week and U13s 10+hrs/week.
independency*: As a fan of the use of archaic English I am delighted to see this word used. I often see it used in a mathematical context but it is so rarely used in common language these days.
Friday June 5th
I feel now June has started I am in summer mode! Even the sun is shining today. With a lot of my school sessions finishing it is a good time to reflect on the past season. All in all I am very happy with how things went. We had a number of good successes and in general I think the players were pleased with their results. It could have always been better but that is the nature of coaching sport.
I had my last session at Gaelscoil in Bantry yesterday. Unfortunately no one told me that 3rd, 4th and 5th class were away on their school trip, so I had just 6 players from 6th Class for the last session. I usually play off the last rankings of the season and award prizes to the winners but with only the 6 of them we just played loads of fun games and gave out sweets! I say we as I had my son James with me as he has finished school for the summer and I dragged him out to Bantry. I think he actually enjoyed it and I know the kids were pleased to see a new face.
I have coached the majority of these players for 3 years now and have really got to know them well. A few of them will be going to Scoil Mhuire in Ballingeary and as I don’t coach there I will only seem them occasionally in and around town, the ones going to Bantry Secondary I hope will carry on playing. I don’t feel I have achieved a high standard of coaching in the Gaelscoil but I think the sessions are fun. I have had very few who have had an interest in playing outside of school in the club but we had a very good girl’s team last season, unfortunately with half of them going to Ballingeary I didn’t manage to keep them going at Bantry. I have asked the school to consider giving me a Thursday lunchtime slot as the Friday evening was a disaster as I am away so often at weekends and the kids don’t really want to stay at school on a Friday. I will have to wait and see.
I mentioned one of my Special Olympic players Liam in a previous post and he has been unbeaten at the Munster Special Olympic Games for the last 6 years. He hasn’t even dropped a set in all that time. Unfortunately he hasn’t managed to progress to the National Games as he hasn’t been drawn out in the lottery system. I have been trying to explore other ways to challenge him and Con Higgins at Ballincollig gave him a place at one of their training camps and Liam played for Skibbereen at a triangular challenge match with Tralee and Killarney. He has only managed to get to these events as I have been able to give him a lift as he didn’t have any other access to transport.
I delivered an ITTA Coaching Course in Galway earlier in the season and met up with Rena Rooney one of Ireland’s top Paralympians, she told me about the paralympic category 11 for players with Intellectual Disabilities, I don’t think we have many playing at this level in Ireland and it was quiet hard to find out information but thanks to her and the Irish Paralympic organisation I was able to get an assessment form and it appears that Liam would qualify for this event.
He was invited up by the Irish Paralympic Squad to a training session last month to assess his technical level but unfortunately it was on the same day as the Munster Regional Games. He has been invited again this month and even though I had hoped he would take part in our Elite Camp with Hu Wei Xin I have organised for him to go up for his assessment.
That was a bit of a problem as I had thought I would be the one to take him but I can’t. Thankfully we have managed to get someone who Liam knows well and has their Garda Clearance, Laura, to take him up on the train, where they hope to meet up with Connor O’Callaghan, one of Munster’s top paralympic juniors and his mum, to make their way to the IWA in Clontarf. This will be a major adventure for Liam as I don’t think he has been to Dublin before.
Irish Table Tennis is a small world and I was delighted to find out that one of the Irish Paralympic Coaches is Louise Long who is now a vanguarda up in Dublin and who I had the pleasure of coaching when she was at St. Angela’s School in Cork. I feel much more confident knowing that Liam will be in good hands and I hope he enjoys the day. I will have to wait and see what they make of his technical ability as the only category 11 players I have seen were on a youtube clip from the London Olympic finals. Liam has a good all round game and can play most shots, he lacks some tactical knowledge and experience but these are all things we can work on. His selection will then be up to his ability rather than a lottery and I know he will work very hard if he is set any goal. Watch this space…..