End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Hounslow PingJon Kaufmann – 21st July 2017
In the spirit of Ping England, West London Ping was very happy to accept an invitation to participate in the William Hogarth annual summer fair held on a very pleasant Saturday afternoon on the Chiswick Common. It turned out to be a tremendous table tennis day with over fifty youngsters along with a fair few mums, dads and grandparents competing for honours. There was only one table but that table was in constant use for no less than six hours straight. Even as the packing away began, the queue to play just kept on growing. Football may be considered the national sport but it was table tennis that held the attention of many of the youngsters.
In the end it was ex-Hogarth student, Khalid Mohammed who won the boys competition, but not before Jack, Tobias and Suhayb gave a good account of themselves. For the girls it was and current Year 4 student Stella who was able to see off all challenges from her fellow Hogarth girls and she did so in considerable style. But coming first second or third was not the primary purpose of the day. On the contrary, it was all about the simple fun of participation, the very essence of Ping England, and by that measure the day was an unqualified success.
From a table tennis perspective, the Summer Fair was the culmination of a year long programme of table tennis focused on the William Hogarth Primary School but reaching out to many other surrounding schools, especially nearby St Mary’s, Green Dragon in Brentford and Victoria Primary in Feltham. These four schools in particular have been part of a mini renaissance of table tennis in the Hounslow borough and judging by the enthusiasm of their respective students, this renaissance looks set to continue.
Last month the four schools got together for their fifth annual table tennis championships and it turned out to be a magnificent affair. Green Dragon, three times winners, had not merely come to make up the numbers. What had been predicted to be an easy win for William Hogarth turned out to be anything but. Determined to win their Hounslow crown back from William Hogarth, they put up dogged resistance in every game. And after three hours of fiercely fought combat and one hundred and fifty games, it transpired that William Hogarth had won the tournament by one single game.
The tournament honours now stands at Green Dragon three wins and William Hogarth two wins. Next year should be particularly tense. But, with St Mary’s Primary now planning their own weekly training sessions, it may well become a three-way battle for the title.
The week before the Hounslow Championships, West London Ping hosted a special tournament for those students who, for various reasons, find it difficult to play table tennis with the standard net. The solution was simple. Remove the net and immediately everybody was able to participate and enjoy the day. It proved to be a wonderful tournament, fiercely contested, yet done so with great comraderie and a joyous sense of inclusion. This event will now become a regular feature on the West London Ping calendar.
Finally it was the turn of the Year 4’s. Having seen their older peers engaged in tournament action, they were eager to show what they could do. And so William Hogarth invited St Mary’s Primary for a Year 4 challenge match and predictably the competitive spirit of the students came to the fore. But once again, in the spirit of Ping England, the day was all about participation. Every Year 4 student from both schools got to compete and I think it would be fair to say that every student gained a good deal of pleasure from the experience. The two schools have resolved to make it a one a term competition.
So, taken all together, Hounslow can be very proud of its young table tennis players, whatever their skill level or playing ability. West London Ping is all about picking up a bat and enjoying the moment. Some Hounslow students have already decided to further develop their skills at the West London Ping community session held at the Chelsea Academy SW10 0AB every Friday evening during term time. It’s an open session and everyone is invited. Just turn up at the Academy at around 5pm and join in the fun. Text or ring West London Ping on 0705 004 2671 for more details. Best regards to all. JK