Emily St John joined the ETTA as Head of Development on March 17. Emily has a background working, playing and volunteering in sport, having worked for England Netball and the Lawn Tennis Association and played table tennis socially. Here, she describes the role of her department.

In a nutshell, our role is to sustain and increase participation in table tennis.

That means working with partners, clubs, volunteers, coaches, officials and others to ensure table tennis happens across a variety of environments, whether that’s in traditional clubs or more social settings.

We are doing a huge amount of research into who our players are and who our potential players are and what would get them playing more, to help us with our major focus to increase participation. We actively deliver or support projects to make that happen.

A great example is Ping! We will be working with Sing London, local authorities, clubs and the table tennis community to roll out our summer Ping! projects, which will place tables in surprising or high-profile places – hopefully with some celebrity appearances to help – and we hope the projects will introduce thousands of new players to the sport.

While a big role is to get more people into the sport, we also provide support for our current clubs, particularly those who are development minded. If they want to extend their facilities or set up satellite clubs, or put on extra sessions, then we can help. We want to help clubs and individuals to go as far as they want in the sport.

We have a team of six at head office and four regional development leads around the country who each have a development officer and a coaching development officer in their teams.

The coaching development officer has a very specific focus on organising courses, mentoring coaches and supporting ‘hot spot’ priority areas.

The development officer looks to support clubs, perhaps helping them achieve Clubmark accreditation or Premier Club status. They work on major participation projects such as Ping! at a local level and provide a high level of support to our ‘hot spot’ priority areas.

We want to sustain and support the players we have and increase participation across the whole spectrum of age, gender and ability. We are an inclusive sport that offers opportunities for everyone.

What I think is exciting is we get to work with a huge number of people – staff and volunteers – who are incredibly passionate about table tennis and getting more people involved and playing a game that can make a big difference in people’s lives in terms of health benefits and social benefits.

It’s an incredibly easy game to pick up a bat anywhere – in a park, your place of work, a bar, sports centre or a traditional club. It’s so accessible for anyone to play, in an environment they feel comfortable in, and a sport that has massive potential.  This is one of the things that makes table tennis so exciting!

To contact the Development team email [email protected] or call the Development Project Support Officer on 01908 208883.

Emily St John