Lowcountry man helps Argentinian youth table tennis team after travel mix-up
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston table tennis club and an area businesses went out of their way to help a young team from Argentina keep doing what they love after a planned trip took a wrong turn.
The last few days have been rocky for the Argentinian youth table tennis team that was bound for the Pan American Youth Table Tennis Championship.
This year’s tournament, featuring 166 of the best young players from 21 countries, took place over the past week in Charleston, West Virginia.
After a mix-up for travel and booking, the Argentinian team ended up in Charleston, South Carolina, instead.
“When we arrive here, we can’t do anything,” Argentinian Head Coach Diego Temperley said. “[The kids] were tired, upset.”
Hanahan Table Tennis Club player Clint Veach stepped in when he heard the news from another club member, organizing a travel plan with a local cab business and personally driving with the team to make sure they would not miss their chance at success.
“When we discovered they were gonna be stranded here, we figured, we couldn’t let them be stranded here with no transportation,” Veach said.
“I don’t know what I could do, and the people here are very kind to me and the boys,” Temperley said.
Nearly 500 miles and more than 20 hours of travel for the team later, they arrived just in time to compete.
Then, bittersweet goodbye at the Charleston International Airport Monday, as Veach saw the Argentinian Youth Team off for their trip back home.
“They’re my friends now, I’m friends with the coach, I got this phone number. And the kids… these kids are special kids,” Veach said.
Both Veach and Temperley, who have been playing table tennis since childhood, say this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Getting the chance to not only compete, but to experience the kindness of others, meant the world to them.
“To help kids play this sport, I mean, it’s the best sport in the world,” Veach said. “Because you play it well as a five-year-old and you can play it well as a seventy-year-old. You can’t do that with any other sport.”
After playing a strong match at the tournament last week, Temperley said the team is tired but extremely grateful for everyone who stepped in to help.
“They play with passion, they play with all you can do,” he said. “For me and for the team, this is experience. For travel, for resolving problems.”
For now, the team will head home to Buenos Aires with a fifth-place overall finish.
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