End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
RBKC take five out of eight divisions in National Junior LeagueJon Kaufmann – 3rd November 2017
In what proved to be a stunning start to the National Junior League, the RBKC teams won no less than five of the eight divisions, whilst coming second in two others. In a huge turnout of 150 participants of which a massive fifty-five were playing under the RBKC banner, it was all set to be the largest National Junior League in the country. With teams arriving from Brighton and Horsham in Sussex to a host of teams from across Surrey and Middlesex, it proved to be a sparkling day of competitive table tennis.
In a fiercely contested Division One, Moberley Table Tennis Club, under the watchful eye of highly experienced coach, Sherwin Remata, proved just a little too strong for the chasing pack, but by the end of the day’s play, the young RBKC team, led by Year 7 student, Harry Derecki and ably supported by Brandon Cann and Shahinur Islam, were just four points behind the leaders. With all three Chelsea Academy players improving rapidly, this team could easily be challenging for first place honours by season’s end.
It was an altogether more difficult challenge for the RBKC with the two Chelsea Academy players, Samuel OB and Samuel M, supported by Fox Primary Year 5 super-star Francesco Bonato fighting all day to avoid relegation. That was their target and through sheer determination and courage, this young and up and coming RBKC team did just enough to fight another Division Two campaign in January. With Francesco working extremely hard under the expert guidance of coach Natacha Mora, and the two Samuels improving at a steady rate, this team has every possibility of not only staying in the division but even challenging for promotion.
It was to be an emphatic win for the RBKC team of Trishton Kite, Ed Gooze Zijl and Mohamed Larbi. All three are ex-members of last year’s London Primary School Champions from Barnes Primary and at this tournament they showed, from the very start, every intention of continuing their winning ways. Now under the expert coaching guidance of Surrey’s Jane Barella, these three young Year 7 lads look like they have the skill and determination to eventually compete in Division One and possibly beyond. The RBKC had a second team in the division consisting of three ex-Fox Primary girls, Louise Pradayrol, Nadia Zoppos and Rose Bourdier, and they too put up a fine display of table tennis, amassing thirteen points by the end of the day, thus ensuring they will stay in the division for the next round. Again, credit must go to Natacha Mora for her excellent coaching sessions.
In Division Four it was to be another RBKC first place but this time the margin was just a single point. Once again it was three Chelsea Academy players that did the damage; Ezana Tendros, Sky Leony and Mohamed Kaba. Seeing off a very strong challenge from Twickenham Brunswick and Brighton, these three RBKC players look strong enough to compete in Division 3 in January. Also competing in this division were three more RBKC players; Khalid Mohamed, Ayyub Jahar and Adam Frost who, with fourteen points, firmly consolidated their place in Division 4.
Divisions Five & Six
The fifth tier was captured by the Twickenham Brunswick B team and the RBKC team of Theo and Harry Chrysanthou and Jibreel Holding had to settle for second place. But in Division 6 it was a highly successful day for the RBKC team of Annie Williams, Fraser Howarth and Hamish Walters, all from Barnes Primary School. At close of play they had comfortably won the division ahead of Twickenham Brunswick by a commanding seven points. Also competing in that division were three more Barnes youngsters; Alf Beresford-Peirse, Guy Hempsell and Max Ellis, all of whom are still only in Year 4. Barnes Primary has had many successes in the ESTTA school’s championships over the past five years, and these three young players look set to continue that tradition.
Division Seven (unofficial)
Finally, in the unofficial but very popular Division 7a, a Chelsea Academy squad consisting of Ethan, Amir, Mustafa, Joshua won a highly competitive division, ahead of Brighton by just one point and just two points ahead of third placed Ashburnham Primary. For the Chelsea team, this was a particularly satisfying result as some disputed umpiring decisions had gone against them earlier in the day.
Playing against much older players, coming third was a particularly good result for the young Ashburnham team of Abdurahman, Isaac, Oscar and Elijah. So close was the final table, that it took the final match of the day to determine which team would walk away with the gold medals and the Ashburnham players proved they could compete at this Under 18 level. On the adjoining tables, it was the William Hogarth B team consisting of Sam Q, Nasser, Dylan and Darcey who swept aside the opposition to take the Division 7b title ahead of local rivals, Barnes Primary B, Hogarth Girls team and two London Academy novice teams.
These so-called unofficial divisions have become a vital and highly popular platform for young up and coming players, many of whom are getting their first taste of competitive play. The structure is flexible enough for players to turn up on the day and spontaneously join in the competition, though with trophies and medals to be won, every player and every school take each and every match with the utmost seriousness. Of all the many great performances of the day, two names stood out in particular; Sacha and Jiahao from the William Hogarth School, both of whom already look good enough to compete in the official six divisions of the NJL.
It was also very encouraging to see a sizeable contingent of new female players including Yasmine, Quynh, Ameilia, Darcey and Katraya from William Hogarth Primary, Annie and Cora from Barnes Primary and Milika, Leena, Gabriele, Lillie and Diora from the London Academy.
But most impressive of all was the fine sporting behaviour that was on display throughout the day. One hundred and fifty players and barely a single cross word over nine hours of continuous play. Now that is what I call a real achievement.
The next round of the National Junior League takes place at the London Academy on Saturday 20th January with training resuming for RBKC players this Friday at the Chelsea Academy.
Many thanks to all the parents, carers and coaches for making the first round of the National Junior League an unqualified success. And, of course, many thanks to Bhavin Savjani and his London Academy team of volunteers for once again hosting the tournament with such consummate ease.
Best regards to all.