Through months of planning and working in partnership with the Greater Sport School Games Organisers, a Primary Schools festival took place on 28th, June in Bury, Greater Manchester.
The festival was attended by 10 local Primary Schools, with each school inviting 4 players (2 boys, 2 girls) to compete in a circuit of 10 different skill activities and then to play some pairs matches against other schools.
Pupils from one of the local secondary schools supported the event as young leaders, with their remit to explain to each of the groups of children, what their activity entailed and to demonstrate how to do the task.
In attendance to also support the event was TTE Premier Club Ramsbottom TT Academy. The festival took place at the Bury Castle Leisure Centre, where the club operate on a Friday night to juniors. The club allowed the Schools Organisers to use their equipment for the event.
Paul Wood, Club chairman, commented: “Events like this are a fantastic opportunity for the club to work closely with the SGO’s and to connect with the local schools, as well as promote our club to all the teachers and young children who attend on the day. We hope we can build on this partnership and establish a yearly festival and maybe a Schools Pairs league in the future would be great for the club.”
Having spoken to some of the teachers in attendance, they all felt table tennis was a brilliant sport for engaging a different group of children within their schools who struggled to engage with sport. Table tennis is different, very inclusive, highly skilful, and great fun for everyone to enjoy and play against one another.
It is hoped that this article will inspire other clubs to connect with their local Schools Organisers, as they play a key role in helping clubs to link with local schools. They have all the contacts of schools within a local area and they have targets to engage young children in sporting activities.
The School Sport Organisers in Bury received Commonwealth funding to help them to run the event and to cover costs such as the room hire and purchasing TT Kidz kit bags. There are opportunities for clubs to obtain funding via Queen’s Platinum Jubilee funding, which aims to bring communities together and to tackle inequalities.
Phase 2 of Table Tennis England’s Level The table funding is now open for applications, so there are opportunities here for clubs to look at some ways of how they can engage more girls, such as, setting up a new girls’ pairs league, organising a girls-only schools festival
A great example here of a club engaging well with the local schools network.