Table Tennis Achievers Summer Clinic

As some of you know, I love table tennis. It’s a game I have played since yr7. I was a varsity table tennis player for Xavier School and helped the team bring home the gold before transferring to BSM.

Anyway… on my own, for the past 4 years, I continued training outside of school. I got a personal coach and I joined training camps. Moreover, I competed outside of school. I played in the UP Chancellors cup, YMCA competitions, etc. Joining tournaments outside of school gave me an opportunity to mingle with kids who otherwise I will never get a chance to meet. This is also where I learned my biggest lessons.

Lesson 1. When faced with an opponent that rolls up his shirt to cool himself waiting for his turn to play against you. It’s pretty much time to pack your bags. Just like billiards, the best table tennis players in the country are from indigent areas. These kids EXCEL in table tennis.  Kids in the poor areas learned to play this game at a very young age and they play for hours for lack of anything better to do.

Realising this, I started to train with the less fortunate kids. I teamed up with the best ones hoping to win in competitions. Actually, it was a win-win situation, they needed funding for registration, uniform, transportation and lunch money and I needed very good team mates to win.

Over the years, another lesson I realised is that many of these potential athletes are being limited by lack of correct racquets, shoes and training. Some play wearing slippers. They’re good but not good enough to compete globally and will never be due of lack of support and funding.

So last May 24-26, during our half-term break and the local schools’ summer break. I initiated a programme called Table Tennis Achievers for indigent promising kids.

It aimed to provide 3 days of intensive 18hr training to teach the kids the proper foundation for table tennis. I noticed that a lot of them had poor form and foundation and this prevented them from moving up to the next level. I selected 15 kids, 13yrs old and under, and another two came from Mindanao with their PE teacher who also asked to be trained. Ateneo agreed to open the blue eagle gym for a minimal fee. Four of the best coaches in the country agreed to help. I got sponsors to provide the racquets, shoes, balls and my parents helped by providing the food and transportation allowance.

In the meantime, I continue to visit these kids when I have free time.

I go there to make sure that the skills taught are not forgotten and are reinforced. Obviously, the place needs refurbishing. I am in the process of checking our office warehouse to look for some construction materials.

I am also looking forward to bringing some of these kids over to play with the recently established BSM table tennis team, for them to aspire for higher, bigger things in life.

 

Kenji Siy