A Gedling secondary school has opened its very own £450,000 table tennis centre with Olympic ping-pong stars Kelly Sibley and Alan Cooke present to put on a master-class for the kids.
Carlton Le Willows Academy, Gedling introduced four outdoor ping-pong tables in their ground two years ago and were incredibly popular with students.
Head teacher Craig Weaver couldn’t ignore the growing passion within the school and now Carlton Le Willows has become the first school in the country to have their own facility dedicated to the sport fresh off the back of a summer trip to China where some students got to cross paddles with ping-pong players at a school over there.
Mr Weaver, who is also a P.E teacher said: “Sport builds character. It’s something we do here, we focus on not just the academics but developing the children’s personal positive strengths
Table Tennis England have even invested in the centre as one of their flagship projects.
Chris Turner, a talent development coach for Table Tennis England said: “Players across Europe and China are training maybe 15-20 hours a week, we have to try and at least match that
Kelly Sibley is a Commonwealth medallist and Olympian table tennis player and despite playing at some of the best arenas in the world, she was blown away by Carlton Le Willows’ new ping-pong palace.
it gives them the opportunity to come and play table tennis every single day
She said: “Seeing a centre like this is fantastic. They have great facilities down to the flooring and the lights.
When asked if the centre could potentially nurture new Olympic talent in the future, Sibley was in no doubt.
“Definitely, like I said it’s a great facility and it gives them the opportunity to come and play table tennis every single day. That’s the most important thing, hopefully we will see some Olympians come out of this table tennis hall.”
So does Carlton Le Willows’ new sporting hall have what it takes to produce a new generation of ping-pong stars? Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if a Nottingham native is in Tokyo in four years’ time.