2017: A year of opportunities and challenges

As the year draws to a close, I would like to wish all our members, players, volunteers, staff and everyone connected to our table tennis family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This time 12 months ago, I was so proud of the achievements of our elite athletes and of the progress we had made in making table tennis a ‘talked about’ sport. I could only hope that we would be able to equal or surpass those achievements.

However, I feel that we have again taken major strides forward. Our elite athletes are to be commended for their amazing performances on the international stage, particularly the bronze in the World Team Championships and the ever-increasing collection of medals and awards which are highly deserved by our Paralympians.

At grass roots level, we have also been introducing and expanding initiatives to make table tennis more accessible to more players . . . in the workplace, universities, clubs and the community.

We have come a long way, but we know there is more to achieve next year.

In the current economic climate, we know that, going forward, we will need to find innovative and creative ways to continue to deliver more to our members and players. We have already created a members’ benefit package which fars outweighs the cost of membership of Table Tennis England.

And we know that we must do more to work with our clubs, leagues, counties, regions, coaches and volunteers, to grow and modernise our sport.

That will be our priority in 2017.

Like every National Sports Governing Body, we don’t have a blank chequebook to invest in development and facilities. But we do have a wealth of goodwill among our volunteers, members, staff and Board who are passionate about committing to the future of the sport.

We also have a sport which can be easily accessible to all standards and ages.

We already have a nationwide network of clubs and leagues which have thousands of players competing on a regular basis . . . and we have an expanding social basis for the sport which has the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of players.

We know that we will have challenges in the next year; but these challenges also present us with opportunities to modernise and improve what and how we deliver table tennis.

We have made many changes in the past few years and these mean that we are well placed to make the most of the opportunities and challenges which will face us.

Our greatest asset is the people in our sport. I am very grateful to our valued volunteers and our dedicated staff for the contributions made in the past 12 months, and I thank you for your ongoing support.

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year.