03 Mar 2018

Two worn out table tennis tables at the local youth centre in Brighton, a seaside resort on the south coast of England but for a local club it was a start.

Now since humble beginnings in 2007, a decade later, the Brighton Table Tennis Club is not only flourishing but is fulfilling a most worthwhile role in society. Leandro Olvech, currently the ITTF Development Director and soon to assume a similar role with the recently constituted ITTF Foundation, was a recent visitor.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

He visited to witness at first hand the extensive range of activities the club is conducting and the unique integration within the local community.

The brainchild of Tim Holtam, the Founder and Director, a registered charity, the Brighton Table Tennis Club follows the principle that table tennis is a powerful tool to involve people of all ages to transform lives.

Leandro Olvech (left) meets (right) Tim Holtam in Brighton


Now in 2018, the club has its own centre with 10 tables and administers 100 tables across the city in parks, squares, schools, sheltered housing schemes, a centre for homeless people, sports centres and a psychiatric hospital. Additionally it operates in two prisons outside the city.

“More than 1,250 people play in the club’s weekly sessions. Their number includes people with learning disabilities, young people from the Brighton Travellers site, Looked After Children, people with physical disabilities, people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community plus young asylum seekers. The youngest player is two years old. The oldest is 98 years. The club is the world’s first recognised Club of Sanctuary, for its work with refugees.” Tim Holtam

Simply the ideals of the club are commensurate with the social responsibility ideals of the ever expanding ITTF Development Programme.

“It is a great club, a model that the ITTF is keen to see replicated in grassroots communities in other parts of the world. This is the beginning of a hopefully long lasting and positive relationship between the ITTF and the Brighton Table Tennis Club.” Leandro Olvech

Notably in October 2017 the Brighton Table Tennis Club presented a TedX talk, a showcase for local people to present innovative ideas and successful projects. Venue for the occasion was the Brighton Dome, for many years the home of the English Open, the theme being the idea a Utopian Wonderland. Utopia was created in Brighton through table tennis.

The TedX talk at Brighton Dome


A most worthwhile visit, for Leandro Olvech attention now turns to the ITTF Foundation, the aim to create to create solidarity through Table Tennis.

Importantly, the International Table Tennis Federation plans to work with the Brighton Table Tennis Club, Ping sans Frontières and other such organisations in an effort to build communities and realise positive social change.

Brighton Table Tennis Club: Local Website

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