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Table Tennis News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Concrete Evidence, Whatever the Climate, Table Tennis is a Unifying Force

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  • 06May

    At the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in December 2009, as part of the Colombianitos programme, members of the International Table Tennis Federation visited areas of Cartagena de Indias where table tennis has a vital humanitarian role to play.

    There was no state-of-the-art hall in which to play, as greeted the players competing in the Volkswagen World Junior Championships a few kilometres distant, table tennis was played on concrete out door purpose built tables. Temperature Change
    Now in Colombia in December it’s hot, in fact in Colombia it’s always hot, it’s always summer.

    Try playing outdoors in England where summer is one day a year and in December when the temperature falls below zero!

    Latest Craze
    However, playing table tennis outdoors would seem to be a craze that is sweeping the country where the sport was born!

    The surroundings of Regent’s Park in central London, with well manicured lawns may be somewhat different from the impoverished suburbs of Cartagena de Indias but the message is the same; the humanitarian message.

    Unifying Force
    Table tennis is for all ages, all backgrounds, all abilities; it is truly a sport for all, it brings people together.

    Guardian Newspaper
    It is a fact that has not escaped the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom which carried the following story on Tuesday 4th May 2010.

    Table Tennis – Coming to a Park Near You Soon
    Concrete ping-pong tables are appearing all over the country as the sport’s popularity soars

    The concrete ping-pong table crouches invitingly in a paved rectangle just inside London Fields park in Hackney. It’s the first unambiguously sunny day of spring, there are acres of sun-warmed lawns – but it’s the table-tennis table that’s attracting the crowds.

    “We used to play at a youth centre when we were kids, and seeing this on the common brought it all back,” says 39-year-old Darren Holding, pausing between matches against Miguel Barrett. They have been friends since childhood. “The amount of people that use this court and it hasn’t been vandalised – it feels like everybody in the community knows they need it,” says Holding.

    Others seem to agree, for dozens of table-tennis tables are popping up in parks and public spaces across the UK. In Bristol, the city council has installed tables in three parks and more are on the way. “It is a bit of a snowball effect,” says Nicola Ferris, the council’s sports development officer. In London, 47 tables have arrived over the last month, from Dulwich to Regent’s Park, as part of a pilot programme from the English Table Tennis Association.

    Table-tennis tables in public spaces are a common sight in France, Germany, China and Ethiopia. Now they are finally taking off here. “We’re giving this a go,” says Diccon Gray from the association.

    Indeed, the number of places to meet for a quick game will triple this summer with an initiative called Ping London, which will put 20 tables in Trafalgar Square in July, with a further 95 tables in busy areas from Tate Modern to Heathrow Airport (the bats will read, “Please put me back!”).

    “Ping-pong is probably the only sport where you can be an absolute novice, pick up a bat, and have fun,” says Colette Hiller, from non-profit arts organisation Sing London, which is orchestrating the programme. But the biggest smiles may belong to the suppliers. Ralf Ganza started his company Concrete Leisure in 2005. He has supplied 30 tables this year already. “As soon as you get one table, it will get very busy very, very quickly, and pretty soon there’s a demand for more,” he says.

    Sport England’s latest Active People Survey indicated a 9,900-person increase in adults who reported playing table tennis at least once a week. Footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand love it. Bands include tables on their festival riders. On Park Avenue, New York, a ping-pong palace with $650 annual membership fees is thriving. Table-tennis tables have become a regular feature of many club nights, too. And while football used to be the sport of choice for campaigning politicians (remember Tony Blair with Kevin Keegan?), now it’s table tennis, with both David Cameron and Gordon Brown brandishing bats.

    Back in London Fields, a knot of hopeful players clusters a respectful distance from the table, admiring the click, click, thwop of a skilled rally. It’s a diverse, congenial group – hipsters, school kids, middle-aged men, families and a few aficionados with professional-grade bats. ,

    “A little concrete slab like this pulling so many people together,” says Barratt. “It’s got to be a positive thing.”

    Same Message
    Whether it be Colombia or England the message is the same; table tennis is a unifying force, a sport for all.

    “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, so they say; well maybe in Colombia but in England, not so. They have a better idea, they play table tennis in the pouring rain!

    Such is the fascination of the sport; hardy lot, these Brits!

    Source: ittf.com

    Posted by ttfan @ 10:41 am

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