At the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sports Awards Waterside Table Tennis Club was awarded Club of the Year and our Colin French received the Service to Sport Award.
The following citations were made at the ceremony:
Club of the Year – Waterside Table Tennis Club
Waterside Table Tennis Club currently operates 5 nights of the week, and works with a variety of partners to encourage people to be active. The club has introduced Table Tennis to New Forest and Southampton School Sports Partnerships, resulting in many primary schools being introduced to the game. There are also a number of opportunities for players to develop, and several have gone on to play for England.
The club has ensured they have accessible tables and have a number of wheelchair players with some competing in the mainstream competitions. The club has also worked with Public Health in Hampshire to deliver the Never Too Old for Gold Event, seeing over 100 players over the age of 65 taking part in the competition. The clubs A Team currently leads in the Premier Division and hopes to win the division for a third year running.
The club is looking to the future to become a Table Tennis England Talent Development Centre and whilst all the requirements for the club (including Clubmark), are in place they are in the process of looking to improve the facility to upgrade the kitchen social room facility as well as provide more storage space
Colin French, Table Tennis – New Forest
In 1998, Colin established Waterside Table Tennis Club, and became the Chairman and Development Officer, a position that he still holds today. He worked hard to establish the club as a quality environment, gaining ETTA Premier Club accreditation and going on to guide the club ClubMark accreditation. In 2005, Colin worked hard to gain funding to turn Testwood Sports Hall into a Table Tennis Centre, and helped to raise a considerable amount of money for this to happen. In 2008, the centre was opened. The centre benefits the school, sports partnership, county and Table Tennis England and is open all year round.
For the last two years Colin has organised an over 65 and Over 75 Tournament for Hampshire Public Health to encourage players either new or returning to the game, to play. At both events just over 100 players took part, with the oldest player being 94!
Colin has also been a key individual in establishing the New Forest and Southampton Priority Zone for Table Tennis England. He has fostered relationships with the County Sports Partnership, Southampton and New Forest School Sport Partnerships, Solent University and Southampton Football Club, to ensure that a wide range of people get to have a positive experience within the sport, either as volunteers, officials of players.
Colin’s nominator: His contribution extends far beyond just the club and he has helped to drive table tennis forward on a district, county and national level. He has had a major local and regional impact upon the sport in a number of roles.