End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
- Samuel OB
- Samuel M
Epic Sports/RBKC, The London Table Tennis Academy, Chelsea Academy, Fox/Ashburnham Primary School Federation, Barnes Primary, William Hogarth Primary, Hounslow Primary Schools, Moberly Table Tennis Club, English Schools Table Tennis Association, Table Tennis England
Inspired in equal measure by the heroics of London Progress Table Tennis Club (British Club Champions 1999-2008, ETTA Equality Award 2005/6, National Sports Club of the Year 2008) and the Ping England phenomena, West London Ping promotes table tennis at both the community and competition level. West London Ping is not a club, but it does encourage participants to join clubs in the surrounding area. Having emerged out of the once vast London Progress community programme, West London Ping has taken on a life of its own. Originally centred on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London Ping now finds its influence stretching across a number of West London boroughs.
On the community front, West London Ping has developed and sustained a thriving Friday evening community session at the Chelsea Academy. Open to all standards, the session has become famous for its Friday evening Top Table, where players of all abilities can pit their talents against players of similar ability.
On the coaching front, we have helped create a number of high performing players including an Irish international, a Surrey County Cadet and an English Schools cadet London Champion. On the team front we have won, in the past five years, no less than ten national medals in the English Schools Championships, including a Gold Medal for the Fox Primary School.
In the National Junior League (North London section) we have by far the largest contingent of players, with last year’s squad totalling a massive 14 teams with over fifty players all playing under the RBKC/West London Ping banner. Starting from the lowest divisions, West London Ping now mixes it with the best in the top divisions whilst retaining a huge presence of young players in the lower divisions.
West London Ping is regularly involved in three sets of tournaments; the National Junior League held at the London Academy in Stanmore, the annual English Schools Championships – both team and individual competitions, and the London Youth Games.
The National Junior League has been a vital part of our programme, giving hundreds of youngsters their first taste of national competition. This year proved to be our most successful, with our top team (Alex, Benji, Jacques) winning top honours in two consecutive rounds. Winning team performances were also chalked up by Erwan, Federica, Brandon, Harry, Abed, Shahinur, and Marco. In the lower divisions promotion was won by Chelsea Academy Boys (Thomas, Mark, Eisah, Waqas) Fox Girls (Nadia, Valentina, Louise and Colette) and Barnes Boys (Trishton, Ed, Oli D, and Nathan)
This year also proved a highly successful one in the English Schools Championships. Once again, Chelsea Academy was the host venue and West London Ping the organiser for the Central London Qualifiers. Fox Primary, Ashburnham Primary, Chelsea Academy and Holland Park all duly qualified for the All London Jack Petchey Championships, where they were joined by Barnes Primary, who had qualified via the South London qualifying tournaments. The Fox, Ashburnham and Barnes teams all performed up to expectations and proudly qualified for the prestigious South of England Championships. The South of England Championships proved equally successful for West London Ping as all three schools won their respective events thereby qualifying for the even more prestigious National Finals in Hinckley.
To have three schools at the National Championships is a huge achievement but one that West London Ping has regularly achieved. All three teams walked away with medals; Fox Girls ( Rose, Nadia, Valentina, Louise, Collette) and Ashburnham Boys (Harry, Abed, Boubacar, William) taking silver while the Barnes Girls (Liz, Ellie, Annie, Riva, Lauren) secured the bronze.
In the individual events, Harry and Arianna both qualified directly for the National Championships, whilst Abed and Harry, (Ashburnham) Trishton, Ed and Elizabeth (Barnes) Rose, Valentina, Nadia and Louise, (Fox), Benji and Lucia (Holland Park) and Nadia and Maryam, (Chelsea Academy) and Jacques (French Lycee) all qualified for the Jack Petchey London Individual Championships. Harry took silver in the Boys Under 11 event whilst Ed won the Under 11 Consolation event. Harry, Ed and Trishton were all in Year 5 so will likely be back this season for a serious attempt at the gold medal.
In the London Youth Games 2016 proved to be our most successful season so far with RBKC boy’s and girl’s teams both qualifying for the London Finals. Jacques and Carlo played their hearts out and secured seventh place out of the thirty-three London boroughs. The girls proved even more successful, with Valentina, Nadia and Rose bringing the third place bronze medal back to the RBKC.
But that was not all. West London Ping provided players for two more boroughs; with Jaikalin and Joseph both being selected for Richmond, and Harry and Federica both turning out for Hammersmith. We haven’t quite reached the glory days of London Progress whose players took gold in five consecutive seasons whilst representing no less than eight London boroughs. Still, we’re heading in the right direction.
Fox Primary was amongst the first of the West London Ping Schools and trophywise they have been the most successful; with a gold, two silvers and three bronze medal in the past five years. With that record Fox is considered one of the most successful table tennis primary school in the country.
But national medals are not everything. I think it is fair to say that hundreds if not thousands of Fox students have played and enjoyed table tennis over the past seven years, including the relentless use of the outdoor tables no matter what the weather conditions. If there is a secret to Fox’s success, it may well lay in those well-worn outdoor tables. Many of the former Fox players have gone on to study at Holland Park Academy where they have continued their table tennis exploits
Another key to the success at Fox has been their insistence that girls be encouraged to start playing at the earliest age possible. With the girls quickly developing their table skills, the boys are soon motivated to play catch-up. Year 3 table tennis lessons for boys and girls are the norm at Fox, and the Year 2’s are forever demanding to have their turn. Fox Primary has virtually become a table tennis academy, with lunchtime clubs, PE lessons and after-school clubs for three different levels.
The third aspect of the Fox success story has been the support of the staff. Anyone that has tried to organise sport at the school level will know that without that continuous support things quickly grind to a halt. So it’s a massive thanks to Mr Cotter and Mr Millett, without whose hands on help, Fox would not have become such a permanent feature of the regional and national school championships.
If Fox have a close competitor both in London and nationally, it has to be Barnes Primary. The two schools have a good relationship across the board so it was not surprising that that a friendly rivalry should develop in the table tennis world. The two schools regularly organise ‘friendly’ matches, and the individual players from both schools have developed close bonds. When they are not involved in fierce combat against each other, they are invariably cheering each other on. Barnes too have been successful at the national school’s tournaments, reaching the finals in the last three consecutive years, and walking away with two silver and two bronze medals. On top of that, Barnes can boast an individual London gold medal won by the highly talented Joseph D.
Like their Fox rivals, the Barnes after-school clubs are heavily over-subscribed, and like Fox, the support that table tennis receives from the staff is outstanding and consistently so. So it’s hats off to Mr Hartley, Mr Jones and Mr Griffith who between them have made Barnes Primary a force to reckon with. In sport, success tends to ebb and flow, and it may just be that this coming season is the year of Barnes, with experienced and committed players in both the boys and girl’s teams. Watch your back Fox.
It should also be noted that two of Barnes’ former players, Joseph and Jaikalin, are now representing the London Borough of Richmond in the London Youth Games as well as continuing to represent West London Ping in the National Junior League. Furthermore, in a very pleasing development, Jaikalin returns to Barnes each week to help train the next generation of players. And what a great job she has been doing.
Nothing stays still in sport. Just when Fox and Barnes thought they had the London scene sown up, along comes Ashburnham Primary School who proceed to shake everything up. Now part of a federation of primary schools with nearby Fox, Ashburnham has been quietly developing a lethal squad of table tennis stars. While their competitors momentarily took their eye off the ball, Ashburnham swept to the fore claiming not only the boys London Gold but also gold at the South of England championships. And in a heart-breaking moment, only a single game prevented Ashburnham from taking the National gold medal as well. This year the Ashburnham boys had to settle for silver, but you can rest assured they will be back this coming season for another shot at the national gold medal.
Following in the footsteps of their Fox colleagues, Ashburnham have placed a lot of emphasis on promoting their girls squad, and there is now a realistic chance of the Ashburnham girls emulating their male counterparts. A special thanks should go to Mr Garcia for support and organisation well beyond the call of duty. And the key to the Ashburnham success? Regular attendance at the RBKC school of excellence every Friday evening at the Chelsea Academy.
The Chelsea Academy has been a vital piece in the growing West London Ping jigsaw. Chelsea is the all-important next step up from the school table tennis club. It is at the Chelsea Academy where youngsters from Fox, Ashburnham, Barnes and many other surrounding schools, join forces with the Chelsea Academy students and an eclectic mix of adults, to form the living, breathing heart of the West London Ping project. But Chelsea Academy has not just been important as a central venue. It too has a thriving after-school club, which at its height, regularly boasted in excess of 100 players on a Friday afternoon. For a number of years, Chelsea Academy has had the largest after-school club in the country.
The Academy has also produced some formidable players. Three such players; Parsa, Ghassan and Kingsley, all started playing table tennis in Year 7 and have stuck with it right through to their sixth form studies. All three have reached a highly proficient standard and all three have signed up to take their level 1 coaching qualification. Already, they provide a highly valuable addition to the Friday evening coaching sessions. Behind these three the Academy has a new set of stars including Brandon, Shahinur, Charlie, Thomas, Mark, Waqas and Eisah.
Chelsea Academy has also created a winning girls team. The girls, starting as complete beginners, went on to take the national Bronze medal in the English Schools Championships. Well done to Maria, Ema, Nadine and Sumaya.
A new group of Chelsea girls (Nadia, Maryam and Sara) are showing great promise and commitment, so the Academy may soon hope to repeat their early success. As for the boys, the Academy now has no less than four teams playing in the National Junior League, two of which recently won promotion to a higher division. More players are expected to sign up for the coming season.
Acknowledgements should also go to the Chelsea Academy for allowing West London Ping to host the Central London Schools qualifying events. This prestigious event has given both the Academy and West London Ping an extra degree of status in the table tennis world. Special thanks must go to Mr Sutcliffe and his hardworking team for their enthusiastic and professional support to the table tennis project. Through the lunchtime clubs, enrichment sessions, the after-school club, inter-school matches and the annual ‘Kaufman Cup’, table tennis has become an integral part of the Academy’s Sport and Wellbeing programme. All in all, it’s been a win-win situation for all concerned.
William Hogarth has been the latest recruit to the West London Ping project and things have really started to take off. Having lost out to Green Dragon Primary in the Hounslow Primary Schools Table Tennis Championships over three successive years, this year, Hogarth finally wrestled the trophy away from their Brentford neighbours. Run by West London Ping, the Hounslow Primary School Table Tennis Championships has become a great annual tournament, with St Mary’s and Victoria Primaries joining William Hogarth and Green Dragon in a fiercely contested four-way battle. The level of coaching has intensified under the skilful direction of Charleigh Kirby and now London has a new kid on the block when it comes to the up-coming school championships.
Starting off as one of the original West London Ping schools, Holland Park is now an important part of the growing table tennis success in the RBKC. Under the coaching expertise of Sherwin, ex-Fox players are able to continue and develop their skills. Some continue to attend the Chelsea Academy community sessions whilst others have opted to join the Moberly Table Tennis Club. With a great squad that includes Benji, Carlo, Teddy, Olllie, Marco, Arianna, Lucia and Laura, Holland Park is now a table tennis force to be reckoned with. With more talented Fox players joining the school this year, Holland Park can only go from strength to strength.
West London Ping got off to a flying start on the coaching front by being fortunate enough to have secured the coaching talents of Marcia, a renowned coaching and playing talent from China. After Marcia was no longer available, former England Cadet star, Charleigh Kirby stepped into the top role. Charleigh has been a key part of the London Progress empire and her contribution to the West London Ping Project has been significant. Much of the success of the Barnes and Fox girls has been down to her outstanding coaching skills.
Supporting Charleigh this past year has been Parsa, Kingsley and the recently qualified Jacques V. To produce competent adult coaches from junior players is the ultimate accolade for any sporting organisation and all three lads have proved to be wonderful ambassadors for the Ping project.
In addition to our young coaching team we have been fortunate to have had the wisdom and cunning of two old hands, Eamon and Ron. Collectively, they have been a fantastic asset to West London Ping, bringing with them their enthusiasm, experience, technical know-how and of course with Eamon, his excellent robot sessions. When one is dealing with so many youngsters, having experienced and reliable adults around to help is essential. Their ongoing contribution has been greatly appreciated.
Now, Fox and ex-Fox players have the benefit of the former Yugoslavia international Natasha. Natasha has been running extra sessions in the evening at the Fox school thereby giving the borough’s youngsters a real chance to move to a significantly higher level. In addition to Natasha, a number of players are taking advantage of the coaching talents of Sherwin who not only runs the Holland Park after-school sessions but also his own club Moberly. Based at the Charing Cross Hospital social club on the Fulham Palace Road, it has given a number of West London Pingers an agreeable table tennis home.
Parents have notoriously received a bad press when it comes to junior sport. Too pushy, too aggressive, too obsessive and too one-sided. But with the odd exception, the parents and grandparents around the West London Ping project have been very supportive and a real asset. In fact, it is fair to say that without the organising skills and all-round enthusiasm of the parents, very little would have been achieved. Getting teams to locations as diverse as Edgware, Bristol, Bournemouth and Hinckley is a difficult logistical manoeuvre and the West London Ping parents have proved up to the task. Some have even gone the next step and joined in the Friday evening top table. Talent is lurking everywhere!
In a word, more of the same. More trophies, more coaches and more players. But, while winning trophies is great, participation is equally important. Inspired by the coaching work that London Progress regularly carried out in ‘special schools’, West London Ping is determined to make its activities inclusive for all. The Para Olympics is an inspiration to us all and that inspiration is alive and well in all the West London Ping sessions. Of course, ambitions are great things, but without a fully trained and experienced coaching team, those ambitions cannot be realised. In that respect, our greatest ambition for the coming year is to increase our coaching personnel to match the demand for our services.
Obviously a massive thanks to all the coaches, past and present. Without your efforts there would be little progress.
Secondly, a heartfelt thanks to Epic Sport and the RBKC network of sports and youth development. A supportive borough is always an essential ingredient. Thanks to Jeff, Mo, Becky and the gang.
Thirdly, a special thanks to all the head-teachers and their staff for helping facilitate the project. And especially to the school caretakers and site managers without whose cooperation the whole enterprise would likely collapse.
To all our partners at ESTTA, Table Tennis England, the London Table Tennis Academy and the local London table tennis clubs.
To all the parents, who continue to volunteer their time and efforts.
To Eamon for his coaching contributions, his robot sessions and his professional web-site construction. And his all-round enthusiasm.
Finally, a massive thanks to Maggie Curran, our Child Welfare and First Aid officer, for all her many professional contributions and never-ending support, not to mention some inspired coaching interventions.
Onwards and upwards.
Jon Kaufman, Manager, August 2016
|16th Sept||Chelsea Academy community sessions resume|
|4th Nov||ESTTA Central London Team Qualification U11’s||Chelsea Academy|
|11th Nov||ESTTA Central London Team Qualification U13’s||Chelsea Academy|
|18th Nov||ESTTA Central London Team Qualification U16 &19’s||Chelsea Academy|
|26th Nov||National Junior League (Round 1)||Edgware|
|26-27th Nov||Level 1 Coaching Course,||London Academy|
|14th Jan||Jack Petchey London Team Finals|
|3rd Feb||Central London Individual qualification U11’s|
|4th Feb||National Junior League (Round 2)||London Academy|
|10th Feb||Central London Individual Qualification U13’s|
|17th Feb||Central London Individual Qualification U16 &19’s|
|4-5th March||ESTTS South of England Championships|
|11th March||National Junior League Round 3||London Academy|
|12th March||Level 1 coaching course (continued)|
|25th March||ESTTA team finals||Hinckley|
|8th April||National Junior League Round 4||London Academy|
|29th April||ESTTA National Individual Championships|
NB: Please check weekly website updates for any additions and alterations. There are sure to be some.
End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Richmond Park makes a succesful debut in the National League
First London Ranking Tournament of the season is another full house. Band One goes international!
Greenhouse will host the November London Rankings Tournament
London Community Ranking Tournaments now fully embedded in the capital
Satellite tournament at the RPA soars into the stratosphere
Barnes Primary Year 5’s take on the RPA and give a good account of themselves.
West London Ping thrive at Greenhouse
Return to Chelsea Academy on September 16th