Steve Hossack: Table tennis body issues rally-ing call

editorial image
0
Have your say

The Doncaster Table Tennis Association is battling to secure a long-term future for the sport in the town.

Dwindling numbers have reduced the number of teams competing in the 2013/14 league to its lowest ever figure.

And match secretary John Peters, who plays for Blaxton, has delivered a rallying call for new teams.

“We are down to just 14 teams in the league which is the lowest number we’ve ever had,” said John.

“There were 98 when I first started nearly 50 years ago.

“We’ve lost a number of venues in the area over the years.

“A lot of big firms had sports sections which included table tennis teams – British Ropes had eleven at one time - but most of them have disappeared.

“Now the only Doncaster-based club with more than one team is YMCA, who have five.

“I played for Pegler for many years but since that facility closed down a couple of years ago the club had to move out to Blaxton, where we are based at the village hall.

“We’ve only got one team now, whereas we used to have several when we were based in Balby.

“And because we have to hire the hall, which is used by other organisations, we just use it to play home games.

“South Elmsall-based St Mary’s, who are based at the church hall which they can also use to practice, and Scunthorpe Sports Club, are the only other clubs with more than one team.

“Scunthorpe are fortunate in that one of their players is a very rich man and he’s turned a business unit into a table tennis centre.

“He’s put eight tables in one big room and the club is thriving. We held our league tournament there last year.”

Not only are numbers down but so is the quality of the players, according to John.

“The standard certainly isn’t as good as it was a few years back,” said John, who rates Ian Denton (St Mary’s) as the top player.

“We’ve lost a few top players over the last couple of years, although there are some good juniors coming through at Scunthorpe.”

The Association are always looking to boost numbers and John remains hopeful that new teams will emerge.

“It doesn’t matter if prospective teams have only got one table,” he said.

“If they have enough players and somewhere to play that is all they really need.

“It’s cheap to set up a team compared with a lot of other sports.

“You can be virtually any age,” he added.

“We have people playing in the Doncaster League whose ages range from their teens to their 80s.”

For more information about the Doncaster Table Tennis Association visit www.tabletennis365.com/doncaster.