I was a little surprised to hear recently that Club Donic in Lucan has had some difficulties. I hope the club can continue in some form or another. We need to house the players in another club or in some other capacity. I am hearing they have set up a new club at a new school in Griffeen Table Tennis Club Lucan. Conor Nolan is the new coach with support from Phil, Conor and Jacqui. All Donic members were invited to join.
So overall Irish Table Tennis is in a good condition. One big question remains is how do we get Table Tennis into our primary and secondary schools and have it played everyday ''Yes Everyday''? The WIS programme has been of huge importance and a great help. It is really a starting ground and to give a new club a boost. I had a fantastic introduction to TT at school and was able to practice everyday and play a competition at the weekend. I do believe without that training I would have not made the Irish Team and would not have been able to play for Eiker TTC in Norway or for Perpignan France.
I coach in a few schools around Leinster and still one big challenge is to get the young children to practice everyday. The head of Sport tells me the hall is not available everyday and this story echoes down the corridors of most schools. Unfortunately some children are involved in so many sports that they play Hockey on a Monday, Swimming on a Tuesday, Soccer on a Wednesday and so on. Remember this is the wrong approach. Ok maybe finding a sport you like but taking years to decide is a waste of your time and your coaches time. Pick one and stick with it and give it 100%. One strong possibility would be to have a teacher based in the school who is heavily involved in the Sport and who is paid through the Dept of Education as opposed to having a TT coach placed in the school. A teacher who knows the Principal well can pull a few strings and implement a club within the complex and hopefully aim to having facilities available for TT everyday. Winning trophies and medals help and can get you more pulling power within the school. If you fail to win a division in the Leinster league or another league, I am afraid your chances of getting TT more hours than Rugby and Hockey is not going to happen.
Last weekend I watched China once again push aside all opposition at the World Championships. It's actually scary how good those guys are. They throw the whole body into shots and give it 200%. Serves are amazing, Speed and footwork is the best I have ever seen and the appetite to hammer the opposition is frightening. It's WAR! They win the battles and the war. So what are we going to do to improve European Table Tennis? Well firstly Ireland must look after themselves and send our players abroad to countries that appear to excel at TT. Training in Ireland is fine providing it's everyday and that the coaching is on hand like it is in the English Premier League. That's the level that has to be pursued. Players like Ashley Robinson, Gavin Maguire, Paul McCreery and John Murphy have been abroad and have seen how the sport is approached in Germany, Sweden and other Euro Countries. It is great having those chaps involved with our juniors. I do believe small steps are required and that if we can attempt to match England and aspire to Liam Pitchfords level then its a step in the right direction.
For the moment we are going to have to watch Ma Long and Fang Bo dominate our Sport for the next couple of years because Europe is way behind and needs to catch up quickly.
Yours in Sport