Discover table tennis; this summer from May to September that is the avowed goal of the French Table Tennis Federation.
In 30 cities, the length and breadth of the country, the Ping Tour restarts.
Gilles Erb, the President of the French Table Tennis Federation, explains the reasons for the initiative.
What is the “Ping Tour”?
The objective of the Ping Tour is to bring table tennis to the heart of cities, 40 tables located in iconic landmarks, introduce our sport. Over the past eight years, the Ping Tour has visited more than 100 cities in France. More than 200,000 people have participated.
It was created in 2013 to promote the World Table Tennis Championships hosted in Paris. Under the direction of Michel Gadal, the World Championships Organising Committee Director, a team of five (Nicolas Barbeau, Stéphane Lelong, Jordan Arfi, David Johnston and Lucie Coulon) developed this innovative concept in less than six months.
What kind of players are you targeting and why?
The “Ping Tour” targets the general public, players who do not have a licence, special activities for toddlers, the same for seniors. We gather players from four to 90 years old! In each city, we are working with local clubs to improve the membership rate and boost new registrations. In each stage of the Ping Tour, we also organise competitions, training sessions, activities for players with disabilities, exhibition matches.
Are you using the Ping Tour to prepare the Paris 2024 Games?
We are indeed collaborating with the Paris 2024 Organising Committee. The Ping Tour will stop in cities under the “Terre de Jeux 2024” label, which aims to introduce more sport into everyday lives.
For the French Table Tennis Federation, the Ping Tour is also a way to engage with table tennis communities in the lead up to the Games; liaise with the local population to showcase table tennis as an Olympic and Paralympic sport.
How is the “Ping Tour” financed?
It is fully financed by the French Table Tennis Federation as part of our development activities, the French National Sport Agency supports the Federation with subsidies. Recently, the Federation also received backing from the Paris 2024 Organising Committee through their “Impact 2024” fund. We are now looking for partners to balance the economics.
What advice would you give to a Member Association which would look at launching a similar tour?
Work very closely with local stakeholders; involve volunteers and employees from local clubs at each stage to make the activities lively. Showcase the sport, invite people to visit clubs. Choosing the right locations is also very important. Somewhere with big crowds like the main square, for example.