European Para Championships Legacy Programme 2023

European Para Championships Legacy Programme 2023
sportscotland National Training Centre, Inverclyde, Scotland     
Table Tennis Scotland in partnership with British Para Table Tennis and assisted by the European Table Tennis Union (ETTU) National Association assistance programme and UK Sport International Relations funding hosted a Para training Camp and Coaches conference at sportscotland’s National Training Centre, Largs, Inverclyde from Friday 13th – Sunday 15th October. This was designed as part of the Legacy Programme from European Para Championships 23 in Sheffield.

Delegations from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Greece and Hong Kong all worked together. There was also a Scottish Pathway Squad training session taking place with over 30 youngsters participating with a  total of 120 players, coaches and officials involved over the weekend. The National Training Centre was ideal as all the bedrooms are fully accessible with wet rooms, extra long beds and room for wheelchairs to manoeuvre. Goradz Vecko, Performance Director for British Para Table Tennis, led the training camp assisted by National Coach Matt Kenny and National Pathway Coach Matjaz Sercer as well as Coaches from Norway, Belgium, Wales, Ireland and Scotland with all players working hard and mixing well.

Coach Education was a key part of the weekend and several workshops were held for the Scottish Coaches, while the foreign coaches worked closely with the GB Para coaches, Belgium, Norway, Ireland and Italy were very appreciative of the quality of the sessions as they cannot usually access such training and knowledge.

Richard Yule, Chief Operating Officer for Table Tennis Scotland, got things started with presentations on their new projects in terms of Social Table Tennis Table and Lindsay Muir from the Murrayfield Club in Edinburgh gave an excellent overview of their Pop in and Play programme at the Gyle Shopping Centre.

Karen Tonge OBE, former Chair of British Para Table Tennis, delivered a workshop on the rules for Para Table Tennis. This was very useful as many of the coaches had not been involved with competitive Para players. She also covered integration of players with a disability within a club setting. How to engage with players, checking what is appropriate for their level of disability and what they can do. Positive not negative. During training sessions in the sports hall Karen spent time challenging coaches on what they were observing; how they could engage with a Para TT athlete. How they can get involved with finding and recruiting new Para TT players to develop the sport.

Dr Kim Daybell, recently retired from the British Para World Class Performance Programme, has recently qualified as a classifier and delivered a workshop explaining the various classifications and the challenges with reclassification. This was another highly informative workshop and excellent CPD for the coaches.

Goradz Vecko and the GB Para coaches then conducted a Q&A and lots of good questions came from the players and coaches to get an insight into how a World Class programme runs and what is involved.

Sunday saw three more workshops for the Scottish Coaches in relation to Scottish Disability Sport, Club development and Performance pathways. Thanks to Dianne Campbell from Scottish Disability Sport for a highly informative presentation. The Sunday afternoon session was devoted to integrated match play for the athletes and concluded with final feedback and words from Goradz Vecko.

Feedback received from the visiting coaches and players indicated they would welcome longer courses of a week if it was to happen again in Scotland. We thank Drumchapel Table Tennis Club and the Chairman of Table Tennis Scotland for organising transportation from airports and arranging training at their club on Thursday for the early arrivals from Norway and Italy.

Future camps are already being planned between British Para and Table Tennis Scotland due to the success of this weekend and we look forward to watching this develop.

Our thanks go to European Table Tennis Union (ETTU), UK Sport International Relations Funding, Table Tennis Scotland & British Para Table Tennis who all worked together to make this a successful weekend.