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. Active Partnership Forums
  2. Pride of Table Tennis Awards
  3. Club Visits
  4. Youth Action at Kintbury
  5. Inter-league Activity in Buckinghamshire
  1. Active Partnership Forums

A significant part of my work is linking with the relevant Active Partnerships around the area.  These relationships allow us to explore funding streams for our clubs and to bring together all the different strands of table tennis activity such as trying to link community group activity where funding has been raised, into local club activity. 

I am currently working with a couple of clubs to move from being a table tennis club for members only, into a community hub that provides activity for several different groups and players, not just the members.  This opens funding opportunities and increases recruitment potential.

This month I have been with LEAP (Buckinghamshire) to investigate how we can link with some local community groups to offer table tennis as a social option.  A key part of these discussions is how we develop exit routes into our clubs and leagues, ensuring that where possible, activity is linked up.

I have also spent some time on the south coast visiting Active Sussex.  I have attended the Sussex Networking Conference where we held discussions with other charitable organisations to see if we could use funding from their work to link table tennis into the provision.

Finally, I attended the West Sussex PE Conference where we manned a stall together with Worthing TTC to offer TT Kidz packages to Primary Schools.  A huge amount of interest was shown so fingers crossed we can see an increase in school activity in primary schools. This will then complement some of the great work being done by several clubs already working and linking with secondary schools in the area.

What a great sport we have, and it was highlighted just how hard-working and devoted our volunteers are when I visited an event down in Folkstone this month.

I met Bob Baker, who was awarded his Contribution to Table Tennis award for well over 30 years’ service.  Bob has been involved in the local leagues, clubs, and everything table tennis, and it was clear from his nomination, and the presentation just how much he is respected in the local area.

If you have anyone who you think should be recognised for the work they do, please nominate them for one of our Pride awards next season!

I was able to catch up further with Bob when he attended the National Championships to see if he had won the National Award.  Bob was a very creditable second to another incredible volunteer in our Area, Ian Wu.

I have been out visiting a few clubs who have signed up as Premier Clubs

We have been looking at how they can make use of the TT Clubs website to offer sessions online to members and utilise the booking element of the site to maximise capacity and take fees.

Using the same principals, we have been exploring how the club can then expand its offer to look at working with local community groups such as women’s refuges, or local youth groups, offering sessions on site but also linking with funding opportunities.

This is a fantastic way of making your club a community hub and not just a table tennis club.  The additional funding streams this can open can be vital for clubs and the recruitment potential will serve them well in the future. 

If you think Premier Club status might suit your club, please take a look at the details by clicking here and then dropping me a line to discuss the opportunities further.

Some great youthful talent was on display at the Newbury event recently.

The morning session was allocated to fresh young players who had an outstanding morning.  Here are some photos of a couple of the winners and the activity on show.

A group of people standing in a room

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A couple of boys taking a selfie

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A group of people playing ping pong

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Later on, we had an adult/junior competition that linked senior experience with youthful exuberance!  All I can say is that in most cases, the running around was left to the younger partner!

Another fantastic event was held at Quarendon TTC recently – again showcasing different competition aspects to offer our players of differing ability the chance of competition.

It was fascinating to see players of a higher standard representing their leagues with such pride and effort.

Whilst I was there, I met someone who I can only describe as a table tennis character.  A charming gentleman called Anton May welcomed me and entertained me with stories of yesteryear.  His encyclopaedic knowledge of table tennis was a joy to hear, and he was dragging names from every era to tell me about his experiences in the sport.

It is encounters like these that profile our sport in its best light.  The years of fun and enjoyment this gentleman has had and provided from table tennis is testament to the best of what sport can offer.

Anton is promising to write a book so if you know him (or know of him) and want to encourage him to take the plunge, please do, it was fascinating!

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.