Thanks to donations from Table Tennis England members to support youth participation in our sport, Table Tennis England have supported a girls only project with Stratford-upon-Avon Table Tennis Club.
With an ambition to grow the number of Under 11 girls playing the game nationally, the organisation was keen to take key learnings from this project and how they can be applied and adopted by other clubs and leagues looking to increase female participation in their local areas.
The club’s TT Kidz Lead Activator, Debbie Barrow was keen to develop a girls only session having entered the sport herself as a junior and having a positive experience through a girls only programme.
Debbie also recognised a lack of activity in the area for girls, with her club only having three female members, as motivations for starting the initiative.
She has previously led on mixed TT Kidz programmes and understands the real benefits to the girls when there is a difference in the tone to the sessions, commenting on how the girls all help and support each other to develop which helps to increase their confidence levels.
A HR manager for a large firm, Debbie believes that sport and initiatives like TT Kidz girls only sessions can support girls in areas outside of just table tennis with the skills developed.
Stratford-upon-Avon girls-only session currently has eight girls signed up and the plan is to continue the sessions as well as engage female teachers locally. The aim is to help develop their confidence in teaching table tennis as part of Physical Education, and to continue the growth of girls playing the game locally.
Debbie has also seen great engagement from the other female members in the club, and she is hoping to encourage one further female from the club to complete a Level 1 coaching course this year. See what Debbie has to say about completing the Level 1 course herself here in the below video.
For other clubs and leagues looking to develop girls only TT Kidz programmes Debbie’s advice is to offer more praise and reassurance as well as focussing more on the technical elements and joint goals instead of competitive games. Other advice included encouraging girls to come along in pairs or with friends, and engaging the parents in a positive manner, even allowing them to join in a little!
Table Tennis England are keen to talk with any clubs or leagues wanting to start TT Kidz girls only programmes in our next TT Kidz phase in the Autumn. Please email [email protected] or come and see us in the Fan Zone at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships taking place between the 25th and 27th March 2022.