Formed in 2007, Brighton City Table Tennis Club aims to provide role models to support the personal development of young people, to instil a lifelong love of table tennis and to build a strong community. The Club offers top-class training and coaching sessions twice a week at Brighton Youth Centre. It has strong links with Patcham High School and Sussex universities and has teams in the senior British league, the Brighton league and many Club players compete in other competitions and leagues.
“Not only do we develop players, we also develop coaches,” says Club founder Tim Holtam. “We have helped to subsidise and train eight 16-18-year olds and two over-18s who have now qualified as coaches. These are all young people who left school with little or no qualifications.” The Club is home to 25 young boys from the Whitehawk area of Brighton, which is in the bottom 5% most deprived areas in Britain. It’s a place where only 12% of young people gain five A*-C GCSE passes (compared to 45% in Brighton overall). What’s more shocking is than none of that 12% are boys. “Over the next three years, we plan to create and provide employment for at least three young coaches that have come through the ranks of the Club. These are young coaches that can provide extra coaching at the Club but that also act as great role models and mentors to the younger players coming through,” says Tim.
Young player Paul Bergin (whose younger brother Lloyd is pictured above right) has been coming to the Club for almost five years. “It has become a massive part of my life,” he says. “I play every day – training, competing or coaching. I’ve got my little brothers playing and, because they started much younger than I did, I want them to become better than I am. I wasn’t engaged at school but now I feel like I have some purpose. I want to go to uni so I can train while studying and eventually become a level four coach. I love table tennis!”
Brighton City Table Tennis Club received a £1,000 grant from William Alexander, an IT and Business Change Recruitment Consultancy, based in Hove, who set up a £10,000 grant-giving fund with us last year in order to support causes close to the hearts of their employees. The money went towards the purchase of three new table tennis tables which will allow the Club to expand its membership and the length of the sessions.
Representatives from William Alexander visited the Club recently to see the new tables in action. Pictured here (left to right) are young player Taylor Davis; Kate Hislop and Will Larcombe from William Alexander; Club coach and UK Chinese champion, Wen Wei Xu; Alex Colwell and Anna Myland from William Alexander; Club founder Tim Holtam; and young player Lloyd Bergin.