England champion helps develop table tennis in Hackney

Mark Smith with his team of coaches

Mark Smith with his team of coaches - Credit: Archant

Two-time England national singles champion Mark Smith is to offer his knowledge and coaching expertise during a four-day course at Morpeth Table Tennis Club, Bethnal Green.

As founder of the organising company, Focus Table Tennis, Smith and a team of professional coaches and players will be on hand as part of a development project to help get more people playing the game through coaching courses and by helping people join existing local clubs.

Running from August 26 to 29 at the club’s centre in Morpeth Secondary School, Smith is aiming through FTT to find and develop a new generation of young players, support and nurture young coaches and educate students and teachers about the game.

Developing a new primary school table tennis programme is also a target for the organisation and the Morpeth Street course could be a stepping stone towards that.

“It’s a community project for all the residents of Hackney, an opportunity to play table tennis and be coached by professional coaches,” said the former top 20 international.

“It’s a massive table tennis centre, there are going to be 20 tables up and it’s available to all ages and abilities.”

Buoyed by increased coverage from the Commonwealth Games and news of social ping-pong club Bounce hoping to set up residence in a Shoreditch car park, Smith and FTT have already set their sights on the next venture.

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“Hackney Council are working closely with us nd we are also currently supporting Bridge Academy to set up a new club for their local community and parents,” said Smith, who has 25 years of playing and coaching experience.

“We’re working in a lot of schools in Hackney to develop table tennis. We provide coaches for clubs and assist with getting new schemes off the ground to work with the community.”

With the influx of interest in the game, Hackney could provide the next future star, but probably not in time for the individual world championships taking place in China next year and the Olympic Games in 2016, according to Smith.

“That might be a bit too soon,” he said. “But that is the goal, to unearth a new talent and help them progress.”

For more information e-mail mark@focustabletennis.com or visit http://www.focustabletennis.com/