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As the founding member of Luton Table Tennis Club (Luton TTC), I was driven by a specific goal in mind: to establish the first table tennis training facility in Luton. This desire originated from observing the dire state of table tennis in Luton where training facilities for the sport were non-existent. This resulted in the player base consisting of a clique of predominantly untrained seniors who shunned the younger participants into partaking the sport.

My background as a professional table tennis coach has allowed me to establish Luton TTC with the aim of developing the next generation of highly skilled players via the investment in youth. I possess all the traits required to progress the club from a relatively new venture into one of the most successful table tennis training facilities in England. One of my core strengths lies in the ability to create long lasting relationships with people from all walks of life. This is a particular advantage for my club as key figures from table tennis have been invited to tour Luton TTC, with Eli Baraty, Darius Knight and Vidal Graham are being the prominent examples. By meeting important members of England’s table tennis scene, I was able to develop a rapport to obtain funding from the community and through a sponsorship deal with Donic. Another attribute which I possess in abundance is my business and marketing expertise due to prior experience in roles requiring these skills. Therefore, I have a sound knowledge of developing and promoting a new venture which will undoubtedly help towards establishing Luton TTC as the beacon of table tennis training facility in Luton and England.

To ensure that Luton TTC thrives, it is important to lay the correct foundations by investing in the necessary infrastructure required for a functioning club. As of now, this club has a table tennis venue in Lewsey Farm Learning Centre Trust with close access to local schools that will serve as the starting point for youth participation. Furthermore, there are 3 table tennis tables with nets, although further funding is required to obtain high quality tables and barriers.

My background as a professional table tennis coach has allowed me to establish Luton TTC with the initial aim of developing the next generation of highly skilled players via the investment in youth. So far, the club has transformed Lewsey Farm Learning Centre Trust into a thriving facility that enables players to not only enjoy table tennis, but to reach aspirations of higher competitive play. Key figures from the community and England’s table tennis scene have already noticed the ambition of the club and its potential for growth; their support and funding have provided the much needed boost which was paramount to the club’s current success.

Due to the highly-vested interest from the community at large, the project has been expanded to cater for not only the youth, but members from all backgrounds – irrespective of age, gender, disability, or otherwise. However, limitations have been imposed in the form of equipment and coaching shortages. It is my intention to apply for this funding to take the club forward towards a direction unprecedented in England’s table tennis history.

As a full-time professional sports coach who has participated in Luton’s vibrant culture across a variety of settings, I have noticed the callous disregard towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle amongst my community. This is further compounded when one considers the wider issues of society: the rising unemployment rate amongst the youth; excess drinking of alcohol; substance abuse; prevalent mental health problems in both the young and the old; as well as the unhealthy habit of binging on television and other consumer electronics. Consequently, the community has become lethargic to any form of physical activity which would foster healthy habits in their lives. Furthermore, the closure of youth clubs has been particularly detrimental as they provided the much-needed platform to educate the younger generation whilst instilling values which are fundamental to living in a dynamic society.

The ambition to launch Luton TTC stemmed from the desire to utilize my expertise in table tennis to reverse the ills of society at large. Creating a healthy table tennis venue would enable the community to participate in a sport which is loved by people from all backgrounds, irrespective of gender, disability or otherwise. This sport has the competitive edge of being extremely easy and fun to play whilst being highly accessible for anyone who wishes to partake in a physical activity. During my time as a coach, I had the pleasure of being part of several community projects, including the creation of an innovative approach for engaging Alzheimer patients’ cognitive faculty. The idea of providing a table tennis coaching session was met with a huge approval, especially since the patients were positively engaged in the activity. Luton TTC’s potential to provide a venue for Alzheimer’s patients is just one aspect of my vision, with many more still to be realised.

Prior to the establishment of the club, I have noticed an acute shortage of functional table tennis facilities and qualified coaches in Luton. In fact, Luton TTC is the only club around the entire county to provide specialist table tennis coaching session 7 days a week. It is for this reason that the club has undergone an exponential growth in the last 6 months, gaining the attention of not only the local council, but international table tennis merchandisers as well as top-class international coaches. Interest from the community is growing at a rate which exceeds the capacity of the club, with further expansion required to tap into the huge market for the sport.