Young Ambassador Vishaal Sharda receives a volunteering certificate from Table Tennis England Chairman Sandra Deaton at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships earlier this year

Young Ambassadors an asset to clubs

Paul Stimpson

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* When you pay your Table Tennis England membership fee, you are helping to fund initiatives including the Young Ambassadors programme, which help to safeguard the future of the sport.

Our Young Ambassadors have logged hundreds of hours of volunteering between them, helping people to enjoy and achieve in table tennis.

In the 2019/20 season, a total of 36 Young Ambassadors – 19 of them new to the scheme and 17 previous members – have between them volunteered for more than 450 hours.

Well over 1,000 hours have been logged by the young people in the scheme since it started at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, a figure which would have been even higher but for the coronavirus lockdown.

The Young Ambassadors programme aims to provide young people with great volunteering experiences, while also helping table tennis clubs which are looking for a few extra pairs of hands.

Clubs which sign up to the programme enable young people in their club and community to gain personal skills, qualifications and vital experience to enhance their CV.

Their roles vary depending on volunteering requirements. Young Ambassadors could be assisting with coaching sessions once a week, helping out at events, creating a digital presence for the club or joining the club committee as a Junior Representative.

Young Ambassadors receive a series of incentives to reward the volunteering hours they log, including branded clothing, bursaries towards coaching, umpiring or TT Kidz Activator courses and achievement certificates from Table Tennis England.

One Young Ambassador who has made a big impression at his club is Sean Lane from Table Tennis Rother. He was recently presented with his 50-hour certificate by Table Tennis England Development and Volunteer Officer Colette Gooding.

Sean Lane and Colette Gooding

The club’s head coach, Kevin Haffenden, said: “Sean has been a much valued Young Ambassador working alongside me at Rye College where he has been a student for the past five years and attending the extended schools session since year 1.

Sean has helped with coaching at this and the statellite club, working with younger students. During sessions he has acted as feeder, organised fun activities and helped organise and assess players through the lower levels of the club’s own awards scheme.

He has gained much respect from the younger students and myself and has developed his leadership skills and confidence. He has been as great asset.”

A number of Young Ambassadors were presented with their certificates on court during Finals Day at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships on March 1.

Among them was Ed Horton from Wensum TTC in Norwich, who helps to run coaching sessions for 7-to-14-year-olds at the club and has taken his Level 1 coaching qualification.

Ed Horton receives his certificate from Sandra Deaton

He said: “I really wanted to give back to the club – Mark Dare, our coach, did so much for the club – he was starting to retire so as there was a lack of coaches at the time I thought it was a great idea to step up and really help out.

“Being a Young Ambassador has definitely helped with my confidence, and being able to communicate efficiently and effectively to a large group. It’s helped me with preparation, time management and you learn to listen to the kids.”

Vishaal Sharda, from Knight Park TTC in Leicester, has also taken his Level 1 qualification, as well as helping to run TT Kidz sessions.

He said: “I was quite a quiet kid when I was growing up and doing this TTKidz course and the Young Ambassadors especially helped bring me out of my comfort zone a little bit more.”

* When you pay your Table Tennis England membership fee, you are helping to fund initiatives including the Young Ambassadors programme, which help to safeguard the future of the sport. To find out more about where your membership fees go and how they help us unlock other funding, read our ‘How your fees support our sport’ article, which helps explain why your fees are so vital to us.

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