Portishead are Table Tennis England's 'club of the year'

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 April 2019

Portishead Table Tennis Club's Steve Knight, Martin Britain, Joe Ratajczak, Derek Connop, Dave Grounsell and Steve Pratt with their Table Tennis England Club of the Year award.

Portishead Table Tennis Club's Steve Knight, Martin Britain, Joe Ratajczak, Derek Connop, Dave Grounsell and Steve Pratt with their Table Tennis England Club of the Year award.

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Portishead Table Tennis Club has been named as Table Tennis England's Club of the Year.

The accolade – by far the biggest honour in the club’s history – was announced at a Table Tennis England Pride of Table Tennis Awards dinner in Leicester.

And the Portishead club scooped the award after making huge strides with a number of member and community innovations over the last year.

Club development officer Derek Connop was also runner-up in the Volunteer of the Year award and said: “As a club, we couldn’t be more excited about this award. When we won the South West regional award earlier in the year we were delighted, but to be named as the top club in England takes things to a whole new level.

“When you see so many other fabulous clubs and meet brilliant people from all over the country who are doing such a wonderful job in safeguarding and promoting our sport, being honoured like this is humbling.

“Although we’ve made huge strides in the last couple of years and we’re proud to continue to promote and grow the sport in our local area, I believe we have much much more to offer.”

Innovations that impressed the judges included seven members attending courses to become Table Tennis England grade one coaches; the club launching regular Monday evening coaching sessions at a local youth centre; setting up a regular after-school table tennis club in partnership with Gordano School, attended by more than 30 youngsters; establishing a 15-table regular club training night, which attracts players from other clubs and recording what the club believes is the best-ever member satisfaction score in a Table Tennis England national survey.

The club also made history by playing in the British League, the UK’s premier club competition, for the first time in their 72-year history; provided the Bristol League with most teams entered in winter and summer leagues; entered the Weston League in 2017-18 and doubled the entry in 2018-19; entered three teams in the 2017‐2018 Bristol Junior League, finishing first and second in Division One and entered two teams in the 2018-19 National Junior League and two teams in the Bristol Junior League.

“This has been a real team performance,” added Connop. “We couldn’t have done any of this without establishing a very strong and well run committee, without the support and funding from Table Tennis England (the governing body of our sport), or without the commitment and participation of everyone associated with the club – players, coaches, captains and the parents of our junior members.

“In addition to my role on club development and the usual chairman, secretary, treasurer, we have a welfare officer a junior player officer, a press officer, a league representative, and we have also just introduced a young ambassador (junior under-18) into the committee and written that post into the club constitution.

“We have the right people doing the right things and have created a very warm and open culture for our members and for anyone wishing to join in with what we do. This is just the start of what we can achieve.”

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