Table Tennis taking off in Waitemata

New Zealand Community Trust has announced a grant of $146,000 towards construction costs for a new table tennis stadium. The funding will enable redevelopment and extension of the current Waitemata Table Tennis Association (WTTA) facility at Parrs Park, Glen Eden.

The current stadium was built by volunteers in the 1970s and is well overdue for an upgrade. Issues included a lack of capacity, meeting only 40% of the Building Code, cement board cladding damage, and deterioration of the asbestos roof resulting in leaks. The current project aims to redevelop and construct a basic ten-table stadium of 650m², keeping construction, operating and maintenance costs to a minimum. The design is basically two big sheds connected with a hallway that will allow for an increase in capacity and greater participation at all levels.

With this funding, WTTA also plans to establish a para-table tennis club (at present, the lack of wheelchair access prevents this) and expand regular club sessions to allow twice as many players to play at any one time. There are currently 250 players (members and casuals) and this expansion has the potential to double in the new facility.

As well as increased competitive play this will also increase the availability for social play and community groups will be able to hire the stadium. In addition, it will double the size of the existing weekly College Sport Auckland Waitemata League from five schools (110 pupils) to 10 schools (220 pupils). Social table tennis can be played by all ages and abilities is a great physical activity. Increasing access will allow greater participation for more groups, help to increase physical activity, and improve health outcomes across the wider community.

Changing demographics in West Auckland support the ongoing growth in the popularity of table tennis. Table tennis is the leading recreational sport in China and is also considered a major sport in India. The significant Chinese and Asian populations in West Auckland are attracted to the familiarity of a sport that is hugely popular in their homeland. As these ethnic groups are under-represented as participants in more traditional New Zealand sports, table tennis provides an important avenue for them to be physically active, healthy, and involved in their community. With Sport Waitakere’s assistance, WTTA has reached out to the Sri Ram Mandir in Ranui temple to provide coaching and playing opportunities to their members.

WTTA has also been proactive in promoting table tennis to kids in West Auckland schools. Using KiwiSport funding provided by Sport Waitakere, it has delivered table tennis taster sessions in numerous primary and secondary schools and welcomed new players to participate in coaching session at the club. WTTA’s Secondary Schools Table Tennis league, sanctioned by College Sport Auckland, has eliminated the need for West Auckland schools to travel across town to play in the wider Auckland league. This in turn has encouraged more local schools to enter teams and allow their students meaningful, regular inter-school competition.