Table Tennis England’s CEO, Adrian Christy gives his latest update on what the organisation has been working on and our future plans ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the summer.
Commonwealth Games Team Selection
The team to represent England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer is scheduled to be announced on 7 June.
Table Tennis England welcomes the establishment of Sport Integrity, a new independent disclosure and complaints service pilot created alongside other independent organisations in the high performance landscape, which went live on 3 May to support athletes, coaches and all support personnel within the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community across the UK.
The pilot will assist funded National Governing Bodies (NGBs), operating Olympic and Paralympic high-performance programmes, to uphold the highest standards of conduct in their sports and to create a trusted and safe space in the disclosure of unacceptable behaviour to strengthen the integrity of sport.
Sport Integrity is entirely independent of UK Sport and will be delivered by Sport Resolutions, an independent sports-specific dispute resolution service, and supported by a confidential reporting line hosted by the charity Crimestoppers.
Sport Integrity will involve:
▪ A ‘safe-space’ for athletes and members of the high-performance community to raise a concern
▪ A confidential and independent ‘preliminary assessment’ to establish all the relevant details of the complaint
▪ A confidential and independent ‘full investigation’ to establish all the relevant facts relating to a complaint, in order to make recommendations for a disciplinary panel, if appropriate
▪ Access to trained mediators as an important first step in the resolution of disputes
You can view the Sport Integrity website at sportintegrity.com.
Recovery from Covid-19
Latest figures released by Sport England have shown activity levels for adults are slowly starting to recover following large drops caused by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The Active Lives Adults Survey reports that between November 2020 and November 2021, 61.4% of the population were active, and 27.2% were inactive. The recovery really started from mid-March 2021, with a rise of 3% of the population getting active compared to the previous year.
In respect of table tennis, the number of people playing at least twice a month is on the rise, though not yet back to pre-pandemic levels.
The number of people aged 16+ in England who took part in table tennis at least twice a month during the report period was 222,800. This is down from 289,200 for the corresponding 12-month period and is around half the baseline figure of 448,700 from the November 2015 to November 2016 report. However, there is a positive change of more than 20,000 from the last Active Lives release, covering May 2020-May 2021, which showed a total of 198,200 people playing table tennis at least twice a month. Similar trends can be observed across the racquet sports group, which includes badminton, squash and tennis.
Transgender inclusion in sport
This is currently a major priority for a number of sports and is something we are staying very close to. We are closely in touch with UK Sport and Sport England, as well as several other NGBs on ongoing developments in this area and we are expecting a communication from UK Sport shortly. In the meantime, here is the guidance that was jointly published by all the Sports Councils in September 2021.
Code of Conduct
The Safeguarding Team have been busy reviewing the respective Codes of Conduct that sit across Table Tennis England:
▪ Players Code of Conduct
▪ Coaches Code of Conduct
▪ Technical Officials Code of Conduct
▪ Volunteers Code of Conduct
We are conscious that many of our members will hold multiple roles i.e. they will play, and will coach, and in seeking to make reference to four Codes easier, we have consolidated into one document which can be found here.
▪ Chris Newton has now been seconded to the Commonwealth Games. Chris will be working as Technical Operations Manager for Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis. Best of luck to Chris in this role and we look forward to hearing about the experience when he returns in September.
▪ We recently welcomed Martin Haxton as Senior Competitions and Events Officer who joins us from Badminton England.
▪ We have had a few leavers in this period, and we thank them for their great work and support of Table Tennis England and wish them every future success:
▪ Zoiey Smale – Diversity, Inclusion and Volunteering Lead
▪ Keegan Barstow – Schools Officer
▪ Jack Grundy – Participation Officer
Competition & Events update
• A live ‘test environment’ to support the next phase of the Rankings Project is currently bring scoped/ costed with our IT developers. For further information on the Project, please see a recent news update.
• Following a period of analysis of the Competition Review membership consultation feedback, a proposal for key principles will be submitted to the TTE Board in May. For further information on the Review, please see a recent news update.
• New functionality is being developed in the TT Leagues platform to support online team entry/ payment. This will be launched for British League season ‘22/23 in June.
• After several successful pilots for National Championships and Cups, two external pilots for 1*/2* events have been arranged in August for the sanctioning element of online tournament entry/ payment functionality in TT Memberships.
• The biggest planned TT Kidz player engagement ever is underway with club programmes that will start from October with participant bookings scheduled to open in July to capture young people and parents inspired by the Commonwealth Games. You can sign up your club here.
• Our 6 month Level the Table strategy report was released in April that demonstrates the positive changes being made to make table tennis more diverse and inclusive, read the report here.
• Thank you to all the coaches that have completed the coach survey last month where over 150 responses were received. Results are being analysed and will be shared once completed.
• Things to look out for in the next few months will be announcements about a Level the Table charter and a Volunteer and Coach recruitment campaign.
• Sport England funded work to tackle inequalities and help table tennis work towards gender parity is being planned out. We are identifying key focus areas for this work, the external partnerships that can be created and how clubs, leagues and counties can get involved. We will be hosting a webinar to share these plans in June.
• We are currently recruiting for a Women and Girls Project Lead role that will help us shape and drive forwards our work to help achieve gender parity.
• Our new website has now been live for three months and is performing well, with a reduced bounce rate, increased page views, and visitors spending longer on the website. We continue to review and refine the site, and a couple of new additions are the expanded countdown timer for the B2022 Commonwealth Games and further expansion of the news categories.
• Impressions across social media drastically increased between February and April, against an already strong baseline, which can be attributed to the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships and the creation of a YouTube playlist, that contained all matches that were streamed live across the weekend, increasing YouTube impressions to 3m from 550K in the last quarter. If you haven’t watched these videos on our YouTube channel, please take a look.
• Our focus as a team is now on the B2022 Commonwealth Games and the opportunities this presents for table tennis and Table Tennis England. Updates will be shared via our Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games landing page, OTN and our social media channels.
• In addition, the annual review design and collation process has started and will be available in the summer. Plus, we will shortly launch our membership renewal campaign, as the start of the new membership season is not far away.