England heading for summer of table tennis
Sport England has launched a new initiative to boost recreational table tennis across England that builds on the overwhelming success of the Ping! project which has helped to transform the popularity of social table tennis.
National Lottery funding of £250,000 has been set aside for this Small Grants spin-off which is called Ping! the Public.
From village halls and city councils to after-school clubs, non-profit organisations can apply for their own table with the key stipulation being that it is free for people to use and enjoy. A fast turnaround means that applicants will have a response within six weeks - just in time to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Table tennis is already one of the fastest growing sports in England with Active People showing that over 130,000 adults now play at least once a week.
"We'd like to see ping pong tables popping up everywhere - from village greens to university canteens, and city squares to community centres," said Jennie Price, Sport England's Chief Executive. "The important thing for any organisation applying for a table is to demonstrate that it will be well used."
Sport England has also confirmed Lottery funding for the third year of Ping! which will see Ping! travel to Bristol and Liverpool this summer as well as returning to London ahead of the Olympic Games.
"We think the locals will really take to Ping! Liverpool," said Rob Connor, Principal Events Officer for Liverpool Council. "By placing tables in iconic and irresistible locations like the Cavern Club and the Mersey Ferry, we aim to get the whole city playing and celebrating the Games."
Local councils in five more areas (Birmingham, Brighton, Hampshire, Leicester and Sheffield) have already secured funding from Sport England's Small Grants scheme to produce their own version of Ping!
Ping! is produced by Sing London - the non-profit organisation whose projects include London's Street Pianos Project and Talking Rubbish bins. "A ping pong table is a relatively small intervention, but it's amazing how much fun it can generate," said Sing London's Creative Director, Colette Hiller.
It is co-produced by the English Table Tennis Association (the national governing body for table tennis), whose Chief Executive, Richard Yule, said: "Table tennis can be played by anyone, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Ping! proves it. Great exercise and great fun is guaranteed on a Ping! table this summer."
The Ping! the Public Fund is open until 23 April. Non-profit organisations who want to apply should register their interest at www.etta.co.uk/news/ping-package
To find your nearest table and get playing as part of Ping! this summer, go to www.pingengland.co.uk