End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Ashburnham Ping: The Future Looks BrightEamon Brennan – 10th November 2017
Great things are happening in and around the world of Ashburnham table tennis. Two weeks ago three former Ashburnham students and four current students were in action in the first round of the National Junior League held at the London Academy in Edgware. Their results were impressive to say the least. Former Ashburnham students, Harry Derecki and Shahinur Islam teamed up with Chelsea Academy No 1 to form the RBKC A team and their task was daunting. Thrown into Division 1 along with some of the best Under 18 table tennis talent in the South of England, the three lads refused to be intimidated. In fact, so good were their results that by the end of play they were just four games away from winning the Division.
Harry Derecki has been no stranger to being on the winning side, having taken silver for Ashburnham in the English Schools Championships two years ago and then going one better to take the Gold medal whilst representing England in the Primary School’s Home International Championships earlier on this year. But for Shahinur, this was a new and fully deserved experience. Having emerged from the first generation of Ashburnham players five years ago, Shahinur has kept his enthusiasm for the sport during his years at the Chelsea Academy. An extremely clever player mixing defensive chop/block shots with fast counter-hitting attacking shots, Shahinur has become a challenge for even the most accomplished of players. With Derecki’s out and out attacking play and Shahinur’s deceptive defensive play, these two former Ashburnham youngsters are set to cause table tennis trouble wherever they play.
Another former Ashburnham player, Mohamed Kaba was also in action that day playing a key role in the battle for Division 4 of the National Junior League. Undaunted by the age of his opponents, Mohamed proceeded to take apart teams from Brighton, Twickenham and the London Academy itself. Mohamed was in fine form, winning no less than eight of his ten games and playing a significant role in his team’s eventual triumph. With the title under their belts and promotion assured, Mohamed will now face a fresh challenge in Division 3 in the next round in January.
Whilst events were unfolding in the higher divisions, four current Ashburnham players, Abdurahman, Isaac, Oscar and Elijah, were doing battle in a highly competitive Division 7. Up against particularly stiff opposition from Brighton and the Chelsea Academy, Ashburnham won an amazing 24 matches, finishing just two games behind the eventual winners and happily going home with the bronze medals. All four players put in tremendous performances and were truly a source of pride to their school and themselves.
If things are looking good on the tournament front for Ashburnham Primary, in the training arena things are looking equally upbeat. A squad of Ashburnham youngsters now regularly attend Chelsea Academy training sessions on Friday evenings and each week it is possible to detect real improvement. Jene and Sky have been regularly flying the flag for the Ashburnham Girls whilst a huge squad of boys, including Abdurahman, Elijah, Josh, Roman, Rokas, Elliot, John, Theo and Kyle have been hard at work for the Ashburnham boys. It is fair to say that every abovementioned player has made great progress alongside former Ashburnham students, Amar, Uwab, Zayne and Freece. With so much enthusiasm from the Year 4 and 5 students, the future for Ashburnham table tennis looks bright indeed.
For those unable to attend the Chelsea Academy sessions, training proceeds uninterrupted at the Ashburnham school on Thursdays. Of particular note are three girls, Nyah, Shan-Nyi and Harley, all of whom have made great table tennis progress. But it’s not just their table tennis skills that are worthy of mention. These older girls have developed real leadership skills and when the younger players are in melt-down over a lost game or even a lost point, it is Nyah and the girls that calmly step in to sooth the emotions and restore the equilibrium. With skills like this, these three girls will be an asset to any sporting club at any level.
Special thanks to Epic Sports, the Worlds End and Lots Road Big Local and City Living for their financial support.