The Munster Branch was delighted to launch their Kick Start Program for introducing table tennis in Co. Limerick on Monday 12th October. The Co. Limerick initiative is being supported by both the Munster Branch and the ITTA under the WIS Program.
Hazelwood College in Dromcollogher is a modern school and was founded in 2002 and caters for 600 students. The school provided us with 4 tables in their spacious sports hall. The school has a very active sports program including Hurling, Football, Basketball, Soccer and Tennis.
The first 2 hour session was attended by a class of 24 students from the school of mixed ability. I was assisted by Mair Kelly well known on the Munster scene as one of our leading juniors. She is doing her Transition Year at the moment and was able to travel to Limerick with me as part of her work experience. Unfortunately our Limerick based coach Nigel McGuane was unable to attend, so Mair contribution to the event was most welcome.
The scheme is intended to introduce the sport outlining the current Munster schools participation program as well as national events. It is hoped that an event like this will encourage schools in counties such as Limerick to take part in the school’s league and individuals in Challenger events. The new Adare Table Tennis Club is due to open at the end of this month and students from all the schools attending the Limerick based program will be encouraged to participate.
The attendance of any teacher interested in developing the sport is crucial as the focus of the event is to help assist teachers such as Dan Sheehan from Hazelwood to develop their school based activities. We focused on many of the basic aspects of the sport such as service and developing spin alongside demonstrating how to coach large groups of students. We also introduced some of our “fun games” such as Guardian, Round the Table and Top Table.
The second school session was for Kilfinane Secondary based about 30mins from Hazelwood, they brought along some of their keenest students who regularly play at lunchtime in the school. Their teacher told us that the sport is very popular amongst some of the students and they hope this interest will grow with the support of a scheme such as Kick Start.
Charleville CBS are just across the border in Co. Cork but are very involved in West County Limerick school sports. Their teacher Denis O’Donovan was one of the first to apply for the Kick Start program and says there is a good deal of interest in the sport. The school is undertaking a building program at the moment so they are unable to put up their tables but they have great plans for the future. In his letter to me after the event he said,
“Every single one of them said the coaching session was great and that they really enjoyed it.”
“For the most part they hadn’t realised how technical the game was in relation to spin, technique, etc but the session gave them a great appreciation of the skills involved in the game.”
“Personally, I thought the session was great. It was enjoyable, fun and I learned quite a bit from what ye did for use in any sessions I might try to do.”
Originally Munster had planned to have just the one session here but with the generous support of the ITTA we intend to try and run a couple more and include a competition event between the schools and if possible bring a team in from outside the area. This is the first stage of developing the sport in Co. Limerick and I personally was delighted with the response and interest from the schools taking part.