End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Manager’s Report – 2016/17 – West London Ping has Another Great YearJon Kaufmann – 14th September 2017
It is difficult to pinpoint the highlight of the season because, to be honest, there were so many. Yes, there were many successes on the table, including in the National Junior League, the English Schools Championships and the London Youth Games – more of all that presently, but there was also much consolidation to report on, particularly in the areas of participation, partnerships and coach development.
For me four real achievements stand out: firstly, the establishment of a bank of home grown coaches based at the Chelsea Academy, secondly, the consolidation of our partnership with the hugely successful London Table Tennis Academy based at the London Academy, thirdly the establishment of our very accessible website under the expert management of Eamon Brennan, and fourthly, the establishment of our first Para Ping tournament, which saw students from a number of West London Schools competing for honours under our modified Polybat rules. It is to this fourth achievement that I wish to turn to first.
Para Ping for Primary Schools
During the highly successful years of the London Progress Table Tennis Club, much experience was gained in working with students that had pronounced physical and learning difficulties. That experience has proved highly valuable in the coaching work at West London Ping. But something new has been learnt. Some ‘disabilities’ are not immediately apparent. For those students, for example, who live with the many and varied forms of autism and other related conditions, table tennis can be a real challenge. Those challenges may manifest themselves in physical or cognitive ways or a combination of both. But because autism may not be immediately apparent, some students may be overlooked or even wrongly chastised for having behavioural issues.
Recognising the potential for every student to participate and gain pleasure from an involvement in table tennis, our coaches simply removed the net and adapted the rules accordingly. It was a revelation. Suddenly, many students who didn’t see themselves as disabled but had felt marginalised by the traditional rules of table tennis, found they could not only participate but compete under the revised rules. It was still table tennis but just without a net.
By playing the ball along the surface of the table, as in Polybat, rather than playing over a net, the game of table tennis suddenly became a whole lot more accessible to a whole lot more students. It soon became the norm that every school session should have a table without a net and those that felt more comfortable with the modified rules now had a ready prepared alternative.
So successful was this simple adaptation that we decided to organise a West London Para Ping Schools tournament.
Held at the William Hogarth School in Chiswick, the event proved a resounding success. Students that thought they would never represent their respective schools, suddenly found themselves in the sporting spotlight. Medals were duly presented but the real winner was table tennis itself because it proved that it was a sport that could adapt itself, with minimal effort, to accommodate every student no matter what their ability or disability. Para Ping was firmly on the West London Ping agenda.
It’s all starting to come together in the London borough of Hounslow. First there was the regular Wednesday afternoon sessions at William Hogarth. That consisted of a buzzing lunchtime club, a two-hour curriculum session and a heavily over-subscribed after-school club. Then came the annual four-way schools’ championships, originally dominated by the Green Dragon School in Brentford but now firmly in the hands of William Hogarth. Next along was the Year 4 challenge match between Hogarth and nearby St Mary’s School.
On top of that, there was the William Hogarth Annual Summer Fair, in which table tennis proved a huge success. And as mentioned earlier, there was the equally successful Para Ping tournament. Everybody it seemed wanted to play table tennis. But this season proved a big step forward for Hounslow table tennis on the competition front. William Hogarth students, boys and girls, both past and present, were in action in both the National Junior League and the English Schools Championships.
This coming season looks set to be even bigger and better. The number of table tennis tables at Hogarth has now reached 15 (9 indoor and 6 outdoor) with more tables on the way. St Mary’s school are also looking to have regularly coaching sessions for their students and most important of all, a weekly community session open to all Hounslow residents is being developed. Watch out RBKC, your pre-eminent West London status could be under threat!
Special thanks to all the staff at William Hogarth for their continued support.
Chelsea Academy Ping
This season represented something of an ending for Chelsea Academy Ping. A whole cycle has been completed whereby the very first players to join the club way back in 2010 have now become fully qualified Level 1 coaches as well as very competent table tennis players. Having now completed their seven years of secondary schooling it is now off to University for Parsa, Kingsley and Ghassan. Along with Jacques Vander and Brandon Cann, West London Ping can boast a wonderful squad of highly proficient table tennis coaches.
Brandon still has two more years at the Academy but the others are moving on to tertiary education and we wish them well. It has been a pleasure to watch these young men develop both as coaches and as all-rounded human beings, and they have all been an absolute credit to the Chelsea Academy, to West London Ping and to table tennis in general.
This season the weekly Friday evening community sessions continued into their sixth year and these community sessions have seen both familiar and fresh faces turning up every week. Of particular importance, has been the arrival of the Year 4 Ashburnham students who now regularly attend these Friday sessions. They not only join in with the evening Top Table but willing enjoy being coached by the newly qualified Chelsea Academy coaches and volunteers. With most of the Ashburnham Year 6 students about to continue their education at the Chelsea Academy, it looks like there will be an almost seamless transition between one generation of players and the next.
On the competition front the Chelsea Academy squad has been most impressive. Having started their National League table tennis way down in Division 7, most of the players now make up teams in the middle and top divisions. And that looks set to continue. There have been too many great performances to single out any one player so it only remains for me to salute the entire squad. West London Ping has won the top division on two occasions and it should not be beyond this squad to win top honours once again. Of course, winning is nice, but being part of the largest NJL contingent in the country is even better.
Congratulations to Brandon Cann and Shahinur Islam, who were once again crowned Senior and Junior Chelsea Academy Champions. But with the imminent arrival of the Ashburnham superstars, next year might prove to be very interesting.
Congratulations also due to Brandon and Harry Derecki for their superb performance in this year’s London Youth Games. Taking over the baton from the highly competitive Jacques Vander and Carlo Di Giammarino, they came a creditable 5th place out of the 32 London boroughs, losing only to the eventual runners-up, Barnet.
And while we are acknowledging wonderful achievements, a special mention to Gill, Carolyn and Ron, our three septuagenarians, who continue to give great service, experience and wisdom to all the young West Londoners at the Chelsea Academy.
Special thanks also to Arren Sutcliff and his team for all their support this past season and we wish Arren all the best in his new overseas posting.
Barnes Primary Ping
Barnes Primary has truly become a force in English Primary School Table Tennis. This year they were once again amongst the National Championship medal winners with their highly talented Boys team taking the bronze medals in a fiercely contested national team final. Add to that, Barnes Boys and Girls team took double Gold at the Jack Petchey London team Finals and double gold at the South of England Championships, seeing off a strong challenge from the Ashburnham teams along the way.
Barnes have now reached the National finals in the last four consecutive years winning medals in every one of those years.
Further success for Barnes players came in the National Junior League as the Barnes boys fought their way up from the lower divisions to, in a few short years, take the Division 3 title. A magnificent achievement.
Hearty congratulations to Ed, Trishton, Cam, Mo, Qais, Annie, Lauren, Riva, Hannah and Pippa. All, save Annie, are heading off to secondary school, but hopefully they will reassemble as NJL teams in the coming seasons. As for Annie, she will form the anchor as the school attempts to build another generation of young players. Judging by the enthusiasm in the current Year3/4 after-school club, continued success will not be far away.
Special thanks to PE coordinator Brain Jones, table tennis coordinator Scott Griffin and Head Teacher Mark Hartley for the outstanding support they give to table tennis year after year. And of course, a massive thanks to the Barnes parents, without whose support and co-ordination very little could be achieved. They know who they are!
Another magnificent season for the Ashburnham players with both their boys and girl’s teams taking the Silver medals at the Jack Petchey Team Championships in January and the boys team going all the way to the National Team Finals in Leicestershire in May. Although there was to be no repeat of their glorious silver medal performance of the previous year, Ashburnham were to taste gold this season as their No 1 Harry Derecki became English Schools Under 11 Boys London Champion seeing off a strong challenge from Barnes’ Trishton Kite. Ashburnham’s No 1 girl, Hadil also went home with a gold medal when she defeated her fellow student Nyah Ode in the Jack Petchey Under 11 Plate.
In a measure of just how far the Ashburnham squad had progressed, Harry Derecki was selected to represent England in the Schools International Home Championships held this year in Wales. And that selection proved fully merited as Harry helped the England team win the Gold medal as well as reaching the quarterfinals of the Individual event. Not a bad way to end his primary school sporting career.
And for the forthcoming season, Year 7 Harry has every chance of becoming the Chelsea Academy No 1. While all this excitement was unfolding on the tournament circuit, this year’s Ashburnham Year 4’s were busily learning their trade on the table tennis table. But not content with just playing at their own school, many would make the short journey over to the Chelsea Academy for extra Friday evening training. Inspired by their older school mates, this new generation of Ashburnham players seemed determined to travel a similar sporting path. With Nyah Ode, now the new Ashburnham No1, acting as an experienced team captain, this fresh batch of youngsters could really make a name for themselves.
Thanks once again to PE coordinator, Alvaro Garcia, who continues to go way beyond in his support for Ping. Thanks a million Alvaro.
Although Fox Primary has been out of the table tennis action this season due to extensive building works, their former students have been flying high across the capital and beyond. Leading the way for the girls has been Federica Bonato who has established herself as a regular Surrey County player and has been steadily rising up the National rankings. Following in her footsteps has been Arianna, Nadia, Rose, Valentina, Louise and Colette, all of whom have made great inroads into the divisions of the National Junior League.
Similarly, former Fox students Carlo and Marco Di Giammarino and Benji Mencer have each attained a very proficient tournament standard. (apologies to any other former Fox students that I may have omitted to mention) If and when Fox Primary resumes its table tennis programme, we can expect the school to quickly be challenging for Regional and National honours.
London Academy Ping
Partnerships are at the very heart of the West London Ping project; partnerships with boroughs, partnership with schools and partnerships with clubs. So, it was with great pleasure that West London Ping renewed and extended its long-standing partnership with the London Academy Table Tennis Club. Given that both parties have a shared history – each organisation growing out of the famous London Progress Club, it was a natural development that both organisations should continue to work closely together. This joint work includes coach development, joint promotions, shared fundraising and sponsorship initiatives and continued tournament collaboration. All in all, it’s a win-win situation for both parties.
In respect to junior player development, the London Academy Table Tennis Club has been at the very pinnacle of success for many years, regularly sweeping up the gold medals at the English Schools Championships at local, regional and national levels as well as dominating a host of other major Individual and team events. Under the expert tutelage of their Head Coach, Bhavin Savjani, the London Academy has progressed on all fronts, including a very commanding presence in both the Junior and Senior British Leagues. Like London Progress before them, the club now attracts high performing players from around the world, many of whom have garnered considerable experience on the international circuit.
But London Academy does not simply recruit ready-made players. The Academy has established a fine reputation for creating home grown internationals from within their own student body, some of whom go on to play for England, while others are selected to play for their original home nations. Reflecting the wonderfully cosmopolitan nature of its students, London Academy Table Tennis Club has grown into a major force for internationalism within the world of English table tennis. Like the old London Progress Club and the present day West London Ping, the London Academy is a beacon of inclusion and internationalism. Spanning all the continents, the London Academy TTC recognises no artificial barriers or boundaries to its ambitions. This is precisely the sort of forward looking partner that West London Ping is proud to be associated with. The future of table tennis in West London looks bright indeed.
Other Ping Partners
Moberley Table Tennis Club
West London Ping also developed a fraternal relationship with the nearby Moberly Table Tennis Club. Not being a formal club itself, West London Ping encourages its young stars to join local clubs where they can expand both their social and competitive experience. Moberley has been one such club where a number of West London Pingers have found a welcoming home. Under the coaching guidance of former International Sherwin Remata (07545 581624), Moberley has begun to carve out a significant presence on the regional and national tournament scene. The club welcomes both junior and senior players, and it currently operates out of the Sports Club of the Charing Cross Hospital on the Fulham Palace Road. West London Ping looks forward to developing its ties with this forward-looking club and happily recommends it to all those living in the inner West London area.
York Gardens Table Tennis Club
If you live south of the river you might also like to visit the York Gardens Table Tennis Club based in the Fircroft Primary School in Wandsworth. SW17 7PP. Just call Tom Draper on 020 8874 1575 and you will be welcomed into one of London’s most experienced and successful clubs. The former London Progress Table Tennis Club spent many years both collaborating with and competing against this South London rival, and West London Ping has no reservations in heartily recommending this fine table tennis club to any table tennis player, young or old.
Twickenham Brunswick Table Tennis Club
If you live in the South West region of London, particularly if you came into table tennis via the Barnes Primary table tennis empire, you might well consider visiting the Twickenham Brunswick Table Tennis Club. The club is based in Twickenham TW2 5LN and is run by the highly experienced Dave Paulowski 0208 894 2571. The club has a thriving junior section and always has a welcoming environment for newcomers. They regularly enter teams into the National Junior League so for those who wish to continue their competitive play, this could well be the club for you.
Brighton Table Tennis Club
While on the subject of partnerships, I would like to mention a rather special partner which, although not in the London Region, does regularly compete in London based tournaments including the National Junior League at the London Academy. Brighton Table Tennis has particular significance for West London Ping given its ground-breaking work with refugees, asylum seekers and other marginalised sections of the community. So significant has its work been in this area, that the club has been the first table tennis club in Britain to be awarded the prestigious title, ‘Club of Sanctuary’.
Like West London Ping, social inclusion is at the very heart of this club’s philosophy. In an era where walls seem to be going up between nations and peoples, Brighton Table Tennis club has shown an alternative path. Everybody is welcomed at the club no matter what their ‘official’ immigration status. The club has graphically shown that sport can be a unifying force, transcending all socio-political barriers and petty prejudices. Under the inspired leadership of its manager, Tim Holtam, the club that draws much of its inspiration from the London Progress era.
Brighton TTC has set a new benchmark for social inclusion in British sport. So remarkable are its programmes, that it is no longer considered remarkable that newly arrived Afghan refugees should be found coaching youngsters from the local Travellers Community. Or that a coach, who just happens to have Downs Syndrome, should be coaching the next generation of Brighton youngsters. At Brighton Table Tennis Club, the remarkable has become the normal.
Of course, we should not forget to acknowledge the continued support of Epic Sports, the trust set up by the RBKC to promote and develop sport in the borough. The hard-working team at Epic have given consistent support to table tennis and the work that West London Ping do in the borough. Even though these are financially difficult times, Epic has remained steady in its financial and logistical support. It is much appreciated.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the sterling work that Eamon Brenan has carried out this year, not just on his general all-round volunteering at the Chelsea Academy, but specifically on his professional work as Webmaster of the West London Ping website. Our website is a vital tool of communication and organisation without which we would be rather lost. But excellent as the website already is, we consider it just the beginning. We envisage the website becoming a major tool in promoting table tennis throughout the West London Region, and we invite all our existing and future partnerships to freely use its pages to promote its club and its activities. Just email your reports and articles to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be promptly forwarded to the webmaster.
- NJL Round 1 Saturday 28th October 2017
- NJL Round 2 Saturday 20th January 2018
- NJL Round 3 Saturday 17th March 2018
- NJL Round 4 Sunday 8th April 2018
Chelsea Academy community sessions resume on Friday 15th September
Best regards to all.
West London Ping
Table tennis in the 21st Century
In partnership with: Epic Sports/RBKC, The London Table Tennis Academy/London Academy, Chelsea Academy, Fox/Ashburnham Primary School Federation, Barnes Primary School, William Hogarth Primary School, Hounslow Primary Schools, Moberley Table Tennis Club, English Schools Table Tennis Association, Table Tennis England, Ping England.