They say you’re never too young to start playing table tennis – and that is true of Krasimira Krasteva, who first picked up a bat and ball and began playing when she was just five-years old.
After playing all through the junior categories, her passion nowadays is for umpiring – and as Krasi has recently passed her National Umpire paper, she is eligible to officiate at big tournaments like the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
After ending a successful playing career, Krasi took up umpiring in her native Bulgaria. She loved giving something back to the sport and excelled at it too – umpiring at tournaments including the World Deaf Table Tennis Championships.
And it was table tennis that introduced her to new friends when she moved home.
“When I moved to Wales five years ago I didn’t know anyone,” said Krasi.
“My first port of call was the Table Tennis Wales website, and I was very happy to find that there is a real love for the game in Wales and a lot going on – so from there I joined what is now my local table tennis club in Barry. It was a great way to make new friends, and what I also found out is that the sport was looking for umpires, so I took my County Umpire paper and passed.”
Since then Krasi has umpired at tournaments around the UK, including British League events and two major junior tournaments.
“I’m looking forward to the sport returning after Covid-19, because the last tournament that I attended was in March 2020 and I really miss it,” adds Krasi. “Not being able to umpire has been a big gap in my life.”
“It is true that as a National Umpire I am eligible to officiate at big events like the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. However, there is still a long time before it and my place is not guaranteed, so I’ve just got to keep the good performances up to have the chance of being selected.”
“It’s very rewarding to volunteer, because you get to meet so many different people from different backgrounds, you get to tell your story and you also learn something new – and you all have the love of table tennis in common.”
“You also get to travel and see some amazing places – but there is nowhere more friendly than Wales.”
“And finally, I would like to thank Peter Higgins [Table Tennis Wales International Umpire] for his help and guidance over the past few years, as he is the reason for my commitment and dedication to table tennis umpiring.”