Table Tennis England’s Marketing Officer, Julie Snowdon, explains how a public ping pong project tackles inactivity by bringing the game into places people are already spending time.
Ping! is a street table tennis project managed by Table Tennis England. It is funded by Sport England and delivered by city councils, local authorities and county sport partnerships. Since 2010 the initiative has expanded to over 24 towns and cities and several million people have taken part.
The project takes ping pong to places the public already spend time, removing all barriers to participation and making the game more visible, accessible and relevant. The public can play on Ping! tables for free, and bats and balls are provided.
We’ve developed the Ping! model to engage as many people as possible, using table tennis to inspire people to lead more active lifestyles. Table tennis can be part of everyday life and people of all ages, genders and abilities can play. It’s fun, competitive and energetic, and you don’t need any previous experience or level of ability to play and enjoy the game.
The project begins in new cities as a summer festival but once the season is over, attention turns to creating more sustainable infrastructure. This includes places to play, table donations, strategic partnerships and building communities that support active habits.
In 2017 there were a staggering 1.56 million visits to the tables. 62.7% of participants were inactive before their visit and 98.9% said they would play again. We’ve found the project is a launch pad for long-term change. The tables become a permanent fixture and are in constant use all year round, with many regular meet-ups and social groups emerging.
Despite being a popular holiday destination Blackpool has some of the worst economic and social deprivation in the country. While it would be easy to place Ping! tables in high-profile tourist locations, our focus was to bring the tables into disengaged communities. Because of Ping!, regular social ping pong sessions and family play sessions have started and will continue all year round.
Bradford was a new Ping! city in 2017. 10 tables were placed across the city and a full events calendar delivered Ping! sessions to the community. These sessions continue at The Alzheimer’s Society, Shipley College, Bradford University and Bradford College. Links are also being made with other community centres and religious groups.
Ping! is just one initiative delivered by Table Tennis England to inspire people to be more active by bringing table tennis to people and communities. Loop offers subsidised table packages to businesses and community groups and Ping Pong Parlours transform empty shop spaces into lively, community venues.
To find out more about these initiatives or how we could help your organisation bring positive change, please contact us.