“CHO!” South-East – February 2024

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. Local Organising Group
  2. Youth Leagues
  3. Women & Girls
  4. Accessibility & Inclusivity
  5. Coaching
  6. Funding
  1. Local Organising Group Up and Running!

We have now established our Area Local Organising Group and had some conversations about how we can build on the work that is being done by the army of volunteers already active in the area.  There are some great people on this team and our aim is to be flexible, forward thinking and above all driven to support those who promote the best of the sport.

As this is an agile approach, we would be happy to speak to anyone who feels they can add value to how we will be creating a plan for the South East. 

Watch this space as we have our first official meeting in the coming days, and I am excited about what will come from those discussions. We will be focussing on how we can reflect on the existing Local Delivery Plan (LDP) and how we can build the LDP for next year and beyond.

I was fortunate recently to visit the latest event in The Heathrow League. It was following an invitation from Tony Jackson at Bourne End Junior Sports Club to see how they ran things and discuss how we can support the club moving forward.

Watching talented youngsters from 6 to 16 was truly riveting. This competition looks to fill the gap between those youngsters who have taken up the sport but are not quite ready for adult leagues, or even Cadet-based competition. I was floored by the numbers playing, and this truly is a model to copy to get more talent into the game.

Some of those playing have already bridged that gap and there was one player I saw performing later in the month at the JBL in Derby – testament to the work being put in by several clubs and coaches in the Heathrow area. There will be a more detailed post about this later in the month.

It is fantastic to see the work that is going on in the area to promote women’s and girls’ activity.  Sally Hughes continues to be a leading light in providing opportunities for participants.

We have had wonderful 1* competitions at both Worthing and Cippenham (all thanks to Sue Hayes for that one!). When I visit these events, it is clear to see that there is a want and desire for more female-specific competitions, so this will be right at the top of our list of things to achieve.

We have a specific Women’s Only Level 1 coaching course in Worthing to be held in May, which will be an ideal way to start your coaching journey. If you are interested, click here  to book.

I will touch on funding later, but this is one of the main areas Sport England have identified to support to increase participation. If you have an idea of how we can get more women and girls playing, please drop me a line.

Another area that Sport England is very keen to support is inclusivity. That means looking at demographic groups which tend to be less active in sport. Table tennis is so easily adaptable for all these groups and its flexibility around where and how it can be played is unique. We need to take that information and use it to open up the huge opportunities for getting these inactive groups able to enjoy and partake in table tennis like all of us.

We are particularly happy to have Amanda Worne as part of our Local Organising Group (see her details in our Spotlight On  section. Amanda will lead us in things that will improve our understanding of accessibility for wheelchair users as well as offering insight into other inclusivity aspects we can improve on to bring more people into the sport.

I have also held talks with a former colleague at British Blind Sport to see if we can offer sessions to local Visually Impaired groups. Again, let me know if this will be of interest to you.

I attended the last day of both Level 1 courses in the area – at The Howard School late last year, and then last weekend at Cippenham TTC.

Again, I was struck by the enthusiasm in the room and the quality of delivery. I am very much from a coaching background and am fascinated by coaching methods and how they have evolved over the years.

One thing that stood out for me was a conversation between a vastly experienced coach and one new on their journey. Whilst picking the brains of the experienced coach, a discussion started that challenged methods and what was the right way to do things. It really illustrated that there is no one way that will suit everybody, but a whole spectrum of delivery styles and methods that can suit your athletes. 

We have another course running at Kidlington TTC (now fully booked) as part of our Delivery Plan to increase coaches actively delivering in the area.  We are always on the lookout for suitable venues to hold courses so please let me know if you may be interested in hosting.

The last thing I need to let you know about is our coaches’ Community of Practice events which will be advertised here. These are forums held both online and in person where we can discuss all things coaching for every level. Matt Porter (former Table Tennis England Coach of the Year and an established Level 3 international coach)  will be leading on this, and I am sure it will be a great experience for any coach to both share and learn from others.

If you are interested, register here stating it is the coaches’ Community of Practice you wish to be signed up for.

Funding is a hugely important aspect of my role and I am always looking out for new funds or grants about to close that may be of benefit to our clubs.

We have recently helped with a couple of funding bids and will see how things have gone. Whilst I am not able to write your application for you, I can offer a great deal of insight and support and our Area Chair, Russell Bates (who has vast experience in grants and funding) has written a little list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ to help in the application. 

Funding currently must be linked into getting more people active. The days of paying for replacement tables are gone and that money that used to be available now must be applied for from various government organisations and Active Partnerships. If you need help on an application just let me know.

Meanwhile follow the link to our Funding Page for more details. If you are unsure, ask and we can discuss what options are available.

That’s it from me for this month and I look forward to hearing from you regarding any ideas or support you need in the South East.