Our latest Question Time event for members covered topics ranging from schools table tennis to Local League formats and audience engagement.
Around a dozen members attended the session, while others submitted questions in advance, to put to Chief Executive Adrian Christy and members of the Senior Leadership Team. Elected Directors Jos Kelly and Don Parker were also on the call.
A question concerning what Table Tennis England is doing to promote table tennis in schools, specifically in Northamptonshire but also across the country, was answered by Head of Table Tennis Development Andy Wilesmith.
He said: “Schools table tennis will become a vital part of the local approach going forward. Schools activity, mainly focused around TT Kidz and club-links are now being developed for schools in key focus areas (more info coming shortly).
“We are in discussions with national and large Academy Trusts, starting to build relationships with School Games Organisers to support our work and working with the Schools Committee to try and revamp the volunteer workforce that makes much of the schools competition happen.
“We are currently discussing a partnership with David Ross Educational Trust about their schools in Northamptonshire and feeder schools around the county and these are really positive. We want to see action happen this academic year.”
There was a wider discussion around schools table tennis, which diversified into a discussion around venue challenges facing clubs at a local level, with a consensus that encouraging multi-table venues and working with schools to provide venues would help the sport moving forward.
There was also a discussion around Local League formats and the issue that late finishing times were not helping to get youngsters involved. Those on the call were made aware of different format options which are available to Local Leagues. This is also relevant to the discussion about multi-table venues and formats.
There was a question about whether there are any table tennis-themed activity weeks or weekends or any holiday camp activities in the UK.
It was suggested to the member who asked the question that they get in touch with their local county and other clubs to see if they run any such schemes. In addition, we are aware of a range of such activities which are not run by Table Tennis England. We will aim to provide some more specific information about this to the member.
Another question asked for an update on the activities of the new Engagement Team.
Head of Engagement Keely Armitt outlined the work currently being done. Most significant in this has been sorting the first party data we hold, identifying tens of thousands of people outside of our membership that we can talk to and engage with. This is creating some exciting opportunities as we build contact with that audience, encouraging them to become more involved as players, volunteers, coaches, members, fans, or in some other way. This is also significant because a bigger, more diverse audience is likely to help us grow our income through attracting outside investment.
A final question discussed progress made on the proposed new model for membership. Adrian replied that wide engagement had happened within the sport and that the Board is due to discuss this at its December meeting, with further consultation likely after that. One of the key messages in this area is to treat members more like customers, ensuring we provide services which they want to buy and making their customer journey much better than is currently the case.