For the last five years I have had the privilege to lead and deliver the Pride of Table Tennis Awards. The awards are an opportunity for Table Tennis England to thank the incredible volunteers, coaches, technical officials, clubs, leagues, schools or organisations, to name a few, for everything they do in the sport.

Last month we honoured and celebrated the finalists of the Pride of Table Tennis Awards at the Mark Bates Ltd Senior Nationals in Nottingham, where they were invited to an overnight stay at a 4* hotel, to watch top-tier table tennis, find out the winners at the Pride of Table Tennis three-course dinner and be honoured on court on finals day. Each year, I am truly staggered and humbled by the nominations we receive. When I meet the finalists, they are always inspirational people who devote their lives to our sport and in almost all instances find being in the limelight difficult.

One of the winners this year was London’s own TJ Alao who won the Male Volunteer of the Year Award. TJ was nominated for his exceptional contributions to the table tennis community through organising diverse tournaments, managing teams, and running a successful YouTube channel with over 1000 subscribers. His dedication, kindness, and focus on fostering a supportive atmosphere have enhanced the enjoyment of the sport and provided numerous opportunities for players to grow and participate. Congratulations once again to TJ for his thoroughly deserved award!

Without people like TJ or volunteers across the country, the sport would simply not be able to function. I do often get questions on how to recruit new volunteers and retain volunteers. A tool I use and direct people to is Buddle. It is a National Lottery-funded programme which offers free learning and support resources to inspire and strengthen clubs and organisations offering sport and physical activity. The link below highlights:

  • Volunteer motivations
  • Engaging volunteers
  • Creating meaningful volunteer experience
  • Top tips for retaining volunteers.
  • Positive volunteer experiences
  • Case studies

If you would like to talk through volunteering, please do not hesitate to get in contact via [email protected].

Thank you once again to the incredible people in our sport!