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NZ Community Trust (NZCT) has awarded the Auckland Table Tennis Association (ATTA) a grant of $35,000 to support their ‘Tables in Communities’ programme.
“We love having table tennis at the Mt. Albert Library. It encourages my eight-year-old son to come and makes life so much easier for me!” - Molly, parent.
“Playing for an hour after work each day has been brilliant. My back has improved, I’m more alert, and my general health has improved.” - Alex Heffer, participant, Pakuranga Plaza shopping mall.
“I learned to play table tennis from the coaches at the Auckland Table Tennis Association School Holiday Coaching programmes. Now I play table tennis for my school, compete in Interclub, attend Junior Club, and play with my friends.” - Marcus Albert, Mt. Roskill Intermediate student.
“The Tables in Communities project addresses the two major barriers to participation of cost and transport. As a result, more members of the community will have access to physical activity through the sport of table tennis.” - Shane Warbrooke, CEO, ATTA.
Chairman Wayne Gear adds -
We’ve always enjoyed a high level of support from local communities, but many children and their families are missing out on access. This is mainly due to cost for those families facing hardship, but also a lack of access to facilities and coaching, and free time not matching available options in their area for play. This is an issue for many sports with significant barriers isolating children particularly in our communities.
ATTA has developed a unique approach to changing the way our sport is delivered to local communities with our ground-breaking ‘Tables in Communities’ project to instal permanent table tennis infrastructure across the wider Auckland region.
This project involves placing tables, bats, and balls in community spaces, thus making them available to the public free of charge (or at very low cost), and thereby removing travel costs as a barrier to participation. Free tables, gear, and coaching are now available at a wide range of indoor and outdoor sites - including schools, community halls, public parks, playgrounds, transport stations, libraries, town squares, business districts, shopping centres, and local marae - that will facilitate access at all hours of the day and night.
Community activations are delivered to activate the table sites and their locations are listed on the free Seekapong app which links players not only with the public sites, but also connects them to fellow members of the table tennis community.
This is a significant long-term project which has involved partnering with communities to boost their capacity and help activate new sites into active hubs. It will take many years to complete, but work has already started, resulting in increased junior participation and more participation in pay-to-play clubs and competitions.
So far, we’ve seen an average increase of 15% across our programmes, ranging from an 8% increase at club level to over 50% in our Primary School Tournament. The new infrastructure has not only increased casual play by providing new free access in the community but has also lead to increased pay-to-play games.
NZCT’s GM Grants, Marketing, and Communications adds “NZCT wants as many people as possible participating in and enjoying the benefits of sport and active recreation. The Tables in Communities initiative struck us as a smart but simple initiative to help make sport more accessible. It’s an inversion of the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy – it’s more like ‘go to them and build it there’. We’re grateful for the fundraising partnerships we have with hospitality venues in Auckland that made this grant possible.
The ATTA exists to facilitate participation in table tennis in Central and Eastern Auckland and to foster the growth of the sport both in Auckland and nationally. We achieve this through community outreach and school development programs, School Holiday Coaching programmes, development coaching, clubs, competitions, events, and other activities such as the HITT special needs programme during which coaches and volunteers deliver one-on-one coaching to 110 special needs students from nine schools on a weekly basis during the school term.