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Sport / Hopes to revive local table tennis scene

Scott Smith in action at a previous Island Games. Photo: Maurice Staples

PLANS are afoot to stimulate fresh interest in table tennis in Shetland after a drop in numbers playing the sport.

The local table tennis association plans to recruit a part-time development officer to oversee activity in areas across Shetland and mentor inexperienced coaches.

The group is applying to Shetland’s Coastal Communities Fund for money towards the three-year project.

It would cost just more than £63,000 over the three years, and £18,000 has already been covered by Table Tennis Scotland.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of Lerwick Community Council on Monday as the association sought support for its funding bid.

In its letter to the community council, the group said 20 years ago table tennis in Shetland was a “success story”.

Back then there were four leagues, medals won at the Islands Games and six players going on to represent Scotland.

“Since then there has been a decline in participation, exacerbated by the recent pandemic,” the group said.

“We mainly put this down to a failure to support new coaches who subsequently drifted away from the sport.

“Without adequate numbers of active coaches, a sport cannot flourish.”

The hope is that a new development officer would consolidate activity in Lerwick and Sandwick, which already has a table tennis presence, and to expand into Dunrossness, Cunningsburgh, Scalloway, Aith, Brae and Unst.

“After initially offering taster sessions to identify those interested in being more active, structures will be put in place to provide competitive and recreational opportunities for players of all ages,” the letter added.

The aim is also to develop inexperienced coaches in order to support this expansion.

“Our overall objective is to greatly increase the number of people actively involved in playing table tennis in Shetland, with the resulting benefits to mental and physical health, fitness and wellbeing, social interaction and inclusion,” the association said.

Lerwick Community Council members said they were happy to support the project.

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