It’s always a joy to be present at the English National Championships Under 10’s 11’s 12’s and 13’s because you see tomorrow’s future champions.
This event was held at Wolverhampton at a lovely venue which has been used for Grand Prix’s and Junior British League. I feel the event was run a lot more smoothly than the (Junior National Table Tennis Championships) with a lot more entries and the tournament was punctual. I must admit though, the event for me runs way too long, commencing at 8am and finishing near 8pm. I don’t think it’s fair having players, coaches, and parents in a hall 12 hours. The results sometimes can be misleading because the young players are tired and more often than not you will not see their peak performance after a long day.
I must admit the atmosphere in the hall felt pleasant and positive; players coaches and parents seemed to be getting along. I believe due to many being new to the sport they are competing via the will to win. The young players don’t know what kind of politics is going on and the parents are new to the sport. Also, the prestige of this event compared to junior or senior level national’s is less and the coaches relax and watch their players compete on friendly but competitive terms.
Enjoy and Play Table Tennis
I often ask myself why is there so much politics inside a minor sport? I guess the answer is simple the more you get involved and become accustomed to something the more you want it to be your way. Therefore this lead’s to inner ego’s and even though many think they are doing the right thing they often forget the most important thing. The love and joy of the sport, yes its nice to win and implement certain methods of your own but in truth, we all just want to play.
Table Tennis England
I was happy to see Matt (England Coach), Marcus (England Coach) and Sandra Deaton (TTE Chairman), at the event. From what I saw they seemed to be mingling with players, coaches, and parents. This is what our sport needs, the heads of table tennis working with the community towards future growth. I won’t lie I was disappointed not to see Alan and more importantly, Sarah (TTE CEO) or Simon (TTE Performance Director), from my perspective it feels like they don’t truly care about our sport (domestically). The European youth championships will commence next month, let’s see how our players do. Personally, I want each player to shine but realistically I don’t believe this will happen due to poor TTE youth development.
Future of Table Tennis in England
My biggest gripe as a coach and a table tennis advocate for our sport in England is the lack of support for the youth via TTE. Let’s be clear and honest England have lots of money and TTE have million are going through their accounts. Why is it so difficult to have a pot of money or a sponsor for players inside the England youth team/squad? These players invest thousands of hours, thousands of pounds, put their hearts into the sport and… When or if they reach their goal of representing England, TTE asks for more money, which then includes them in the squad. Personally, I feel it’s a broken system. A system that can cost over £10k and you may not get picked, furthermore, a program that judges you on your fitness rather than your ability. Table tennis is a skill-based sport and to develop your skill takes years. Anyone at any time can uplift their fitness in a matter of weeks to months, so why penalise players if they can’t reach a certain level in a bleep test?
To become great we must start and to be great we must be supported