Up-and-coming Juniors share responsibility with seasoned Senior internationals on Table Tennis England’s new Athlete Panel.
The panel has been set up to give athletes a voice to help shape the direction and operation of the Talent and Performance Pathway from top to bottom, and to influence how athletes are supported in training and competition environments.
The five athletes on the panel (pictured above, clockwise from left) are Senior internationals Tin-Tin Ho and Sam Walker and Juniors Mari Baldwin, Anna Green and Megan Jones.
They were appointed after an application process steered by former internationals Emma Vickers and Lois Peake, in collaboration with the Table Tennis England Board’s Talent & Performance Committee.
There is scope to add more athletes from the Junior boys’ ranks and, in due course, younger pathway athletes could potentially also come on board.
The Panel will collect thoughts, experiences and feedback from athletes at all levels on the programme and liaise with and make recommendations to the Head of Performance Development, the Board and the Talent & Performance Committee.
Lois said: “It’s a way to get athletes’ voices to be heard in a safe way, because athletes can be worried to reveal their feelings in case there are repercussions, and it’s also a way to take those views into account when making decisions about the pathway.
“We want athletes to trust that what they say is going to be confidential and that their voices matter and that it’s a positive, collaborative approach across the pathway.
“The first year is about getting it up and running and building up that trust with athletes that it’s not just a tick-box exercise and is a positive change to ensure athletes’ voices are listened to.”
The panel is set to meet four times a year in person or online. It will also collect views from athletes on a continuous basis. Members must be part of the Talent & Performance Pathway and will serve two-year terms.
Sam Walker said: “We’re there to hopefully make a difference for the athletes right across the programmes and give them a voice and a bit more communication about the decisions that are being made, and the chance to raise concerns or feedback.
“We all want a successful Table Tennis England in general and in particular from our point of view to be successful performance-wise, and if I can help that, then that’s what I want to do.”
Mari Baldwin, who is in the under-19 bracket of the pathway, said: “It’s something I wanted to be part of and I’m happy to get the opportunity.
“I want people to be able to talk to me about issues they’ve been having and to help them out and help them achieve what they can.
“I want to get more girls into the sport and into the pathway – and staying in the pathway, because there’s a drop-off at my age group. Hopefully this is a way to help that and also to help improve the programme.”