In 1999 as the twentieth century came to a close, the membership of the International Table Tennis Federation was 180; now in 2012 that number stands at 215 and is set to grow even further.
A total of 32 new national table tennis associations have been formed in the present century.
The major reason: the establishment in 1999 of the ITTF Development Programme, a concept designed to promote the sport of table tennis globally; to introduce more people to the sport everybody can play.
Working closely with Continental Federations and Olympic Solidarity the goal of promoting table tennis in every respect has been achieved.
Now, over a decade later, over 100 courses per year are staged and assistance in every respect provided to facilitate the growth of table tennis.
One of the most frequent comments is that the human resources are available, knowledge can be acquired through education but progress is hampered by a lack of equipment.
It is in this respect that Butterfly has played a major role. The company been a major supporter of the ITTF Development Programme from the very outset; it is to some extent thanks to the support given that countries previously with no organised governing body for the sport have now emerged.
Over 30 countries per year receive equipment aid from the ITTF Development Programme; time and again the stamp on the carton, in which the precious goods are packed, is that of the Butterfly’s wings.
The courses organised are wide ranging from coaching to umpiring, refereeing and organising tournaments; no stone is left unturned and in times of need both the ITTF Development Department and Butterfly have been quick to responds.
In December 2004 when a tsunami hit south east Asia and more recently in March 2011 when the same tragedy hit the coast of Japan; the name of Butterfly appeared prominent on the packages of aid. The sight of children in Sri Lanka all proudly dressed in their new Butterfly shirts, smiling, happy and safe, was a sight to bring tears to the eyes.
It is most appropriate that Butterfly is a major supporter of the ITTF Development Programme and follows the principles of the late Hikosuke Tamasu when he started the company. He had experienced the horrors of war, especially the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, he saw a need, he met that need by forming a company to supply equipment.
Many years later, it is in the footsteps of those principles dear to the heart of Hikosuke Tamasu that the ITTF Development Programme operates.
Now, in 2012, there are only eight countries with National Olympic Committees that are not members of the International Table Tennis Federation; the number is set to reduce.