Hi all,

Time for another chat about the Area Network in the South East. I will be airing some views on the local table tennis world and keeping you up to date on what’s going on in the area. Please contact me if you have any news or opinions about what’s occurring – I am always happy to chat about this great sport!

This month…..

  1. Mark Bates National Championships
  2. South East Coaches Forum
  3. Level 1 Umpires Course
  4. Volunteer Recruitment
  1. Mark Bates National Championships

A big chunk of this month has been with the National Championships up in Nottingham.

I get a slightly different view of the event and some of you may have spotted me sitting underneath a little sign saying, “Area Manager Network”! Although I don’t get to see much of the excellent play taking place, I am able to meet and catch up with many of the volunteers who are active in the South East.

Informal chats with clubs and counties often reveal opportunities of work we can look at supporting. I was able to catch up with a couple of clubs who have been working on a TT Kids programme with us, targeting schools and bringing them into a festival – the aim is to see how many of these kids make the step across into formal club coaching once they have got the bug!

Being situated in the Fan Zone also allowed me to see what really interests any of the club players attending. Watching the queue for the Virtual Reality stand, the challenge of the speed gun and the contest for the longest rally on the mini tables was fascinating. What this tells me is that it doesn’t matter what age you are, technology and innovation is vital to keep the sport moving forward.

I was sat right next to the stand showing the history of the World Championships. Diane Webb had created a hugely interesting montage of pictures, programmes, and insight. The work that went in to creating something like this is incredible and I just want to thank Diane for taking time to take me through the years and point out some of the detail behind each story.

As part of UK Coaching National Coaches Week, we are going to be running a Coaches Forum -Wednesday 1st May from 7.30pm.

The intention of this first session is to get insight into what is wanted and needed in the way of support for our coaches. Whether that is guest speakers from inside/outside the sport, ideas on local face-to-face CPD events, discussions on evolving coaching methodology or just being able to chat to other coaches and see how they operate and share ideas, the forum will be an ideal time to give your input into how we will shape support across the area.

This is the first session, and we would like to invite coaches of all levels along. At future events, we will tailor the sessions to the different levels of experience and activity to make it as useful as possible.

To register please use the link CLICK HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

There is never a date or time that suits everyone so don’t worry if you cannot make this one as we will record it and share the link on this page after the event.

There is also now a new Facebook page devoted to coaching – just CLICK HERE and please take a look, then let me know your thoughts.

I popped down to the recent final day of the Level 1 Umpires course held at Thomas-A-Becket school in Worthing.

There were 17 fresh and eager participants who were expertly mentored by Harmesh (Harry) Jutle and it was very interesting to hear some of the different motivations they had for being on the course.

I will be posting a news item with more details of the course later in the month, but I think it is worth noting why people volunteer for such a course and why it is important we can accommodate everyone’s motivation.

Obviously, some were there to start a career path that could open up travel and event opportunities around the country and possibly even further afield.  However, there were also those who just wanted to be the best version they could be in local leagues. Some wanted to build understanding so they could help others in the sport and enhance their umpiring methods – all were challenged and hopefully found the course worthwhile.

If you want to start your journey, more details can be found HERE

This is one of the most difficult aspects of grassroots sport and finding, retaining and rewarding volunteers is easily the most challenging topic all sports clubs face post-covid. 

Without volunteers, clubs would not run, and I was fortunate enough to attend a recent Sport England conference on this subject. I was amazed to hear that all sports are finding difficulty in this area but there is some great work being done and at Table Tennis England we are looking at ways we can support clubs, leagues and counties to bolster their volunteer network.

We are looking to support the BIG HELP OUT event running from 7th to 9th June so please keep an eye out for more information coming soon and anyone with any ideas, please contact me.

That’s all from me and look forward to discussing all things table tennis with you at some point!