Sport England grant for Keighley’s over-50’s table tennis players
Published on: 7th February 2012
Keighley’s over-50’s table tennis players have received a vote of confidence from Sport England: funding for a year’s coaching.
Haworth Hawks Table Tennis Club applied in September 2011 and heard last week that they have been awarded the full amount of £8,124 to be split three ways between primary school age learners, 16-24s and of course the over 50’s groups that have proved so popular at Keighley Table Tennis Centre that they now meet three times a week.
Coaching began immediately, led by John Ainley, Haworth Hawks’ support and coaching officer. John has been playing table tennis for 40 years and coaching in Yorkshire and Northumberland for the last 16. One of John’s first customers was Jack Webber, who at 82 is the club’s oldest member. Jack has been playing table tennis since 1946, when he was 17. He remembers the days when table tennis bats were the same colour on both sides and players used hard bats, rather than applying the spongy (‘pimples-in’) rubbers favoured in today’s game.
A former Division One player in Keighley League, Jack has played all his life (including while he was in the RAF in the early 1950’s) with only a few gaps. During the last gap, his GP advised him to get back to table tennis pronto to help maintain his heart health. With the opening of KTTC in October 2008, Jack was able to comply and today plays in Keighley League in a team called ‘The Grumpies.’
Despite his wealth of experience in the game, Jack believes one is never too old to pick up a few new tips.
Many over-50s table tennis players fail to move around properly while playing, which leads to weak shots and a greater risk of injury. John Ainley plans to work on consistency with them by improving their range of movement as well as offering technical help. He hopes this will increase over-50s participation in the local table tennis league.
At the first session, John put everyone through their paces in one-to-one 15 minute training slots, during which many players said they had moved around more than they had in months – and certainly more than in an average table tennis match. They immediately noticed improvements in their game.
John will lead 48 weekly sessions for the over-50s. His students in the 16-24 age range will also come to KTTC, from Keighley College, the Bangaldeshi Centre and Holy Family Secondary school.
For primary school learners, John will be holding breakfast clubs at Ingrow Primary, Nesfield Primary and Holy Croft Primary Schools, where he will coach for three terms and during the holidays..
Anyone wanting to get involved or learn more about table tennis in Keighley should contact Andy Bray on 07766 428307.