I have been a Table Tennis England development officer for nearly 15 years now and one of the key issues that often faces a lot of our clubs year on year, is not having the control of their own facilities, to be able to set their own weekly programs, to be able to open up when they want to , to have some control into knowing what their yearly or long term costs will be and one of the biggest issues is equipment, in terms of damage, storage and the huge hassle faced by clubs in having to keep taking the equipment up and down when renting out space within leisure centres, schools and community places.
Table Tennis England’s strategy is all based around PEOPLE, PLACES and PARTICIPATION. Within the last few weeks, I have visited 2 mills that have now taken up residency by 2 table tennis clubs.
One of the clubs is Deighton TTC who combined resources with the Huddersfield League and set up their new 16 table centre on the 3rd Floor of a mill near Huddersfield town centre. I was really impressed with the new facility and the huge potential they now have in driving participation throughout the player pathways and for increasing participation within the local community and schools.
I published an article on this a couple of weeks back, so in case you missed it, here it is again
The other facility I visited was Leigh St George Community Table Tennis Club who opened up their new table tennis facility on the 2nd Floor of Leigh Spinners Mill in October 2018. The 2 key volunteers behind this were Peter Rowlinson who is the chair of the Mill and who informed me ” There are roughly 20 derelict mills like this across Greater Manchester that could be utilised by local Community Sports Clubs. Through help from local sponsors, Sport England’s Community Asset Fund and Wigan Council, we were able to raise the funds to convert the 2nd Floor of the mill into 5 new sports facilities for clubs.”
I was really impressed with the different units being used for 1, a judo club 2. an archery club that has the best lighting in the country 3. a cheer leading and dance club 4. 2 indoor bowling greens. It was really good that these sporting activities had been given an opportunity to deliver their sports and not have to face the constant battle within our leisure centre and schools of facilities being hired out for football! There is still work to do on the TT unit, painting, purchasing more equipment, sorting out the ceiling, lighting and marketing the new facility to the local community and schools. The other key volunteer behind the new mill facility for table tennis is Chris Garfin. I had met Chris some years back now and helped him to set up Leigh St George Community TT Club at the Leigh miners club. Through Chris’s hard work, dedication, DIY skills, commitment and passion for Table Tennis he has been awarded Table Tennis England’s Volunteer of the Year. The club have really developed over the past few years and to now have this fantastic new facility, with huge potential to grow the sport is down mostly to the hard work from Chris.
Below are some of the photos I took on my 1st visit but when I go next time the walls will be green so I have been informed. The main playing area which can have 8-10 tables.
A social area that be used for having a chat, meetings, tea/coffee which is ideal for Community Groups.
Training area for service, robot machine.
1 of the 2 match room areas ideal for your local league matches.
Peter has informed me that he would be willing to talk to anybody on how he has gone about converting an old derelict mill into a facility now being used by a variety of local sports clubs and groups. He has excellent knowledge on obtaining the funding and working with your local authority. He can be contacted on 07443 496911 or [email protected]
For me this is the way forward for our Table Tennis Clubs! I hope you have enjoyed the read and it has inspired our clubs that want to develop, to look for any opportunities there may be locally within some derelict mills, as these 2 clubs have shown that it can be done when the opportunity arises. The contact for Deighton and Huddersfield TT Centre is Paul Simpson 07879 248635 or [email protected] Again, if you want to ask Paul any questions I am sure Paul will provide you with some sound information, help and support.