For the first time in possibly 20 years, I did not watch or follow the English Table Tennis National Championships!
I sneaked a peak on some highlights from Saturday with Craig Bryant vs Alim and 1 or 2 other games but that was enough for me. I felt so ashamed and disassociated seeing the nation’s most prestigious event (for me) the worst Nationals to date!
How can we make it better?
- Have a Qualification event: This would give every player in England an opportunity to play inside the nation’s no.1 event. It would provide shock results and make most players feel a part of the event. Implementing an open entry would lead to extra support towards the main event (the players, whether in or out would feel a part of the whole event). It would also open doors for players such as myself, who may decide, they wish to compete again but do not have a national ranking! Or better yet someone like Andrew Rushton who could still push most players inside the top 10 but is unable to play due to the new closed ranking system. Increase the main event numbers, by having 64 players in the draw and the top 16 ranked players gain automatic qualification. Opening the Nationals to every player would be a huge boost for everyone; players, spectators and the organisation.
- Venue: I understand this year, it was easy to host the Nationals off the back of the World Cup but as many have said, “the nationals need to feel intimate”. For instance looking at the Ping Pong World Championships at Ally Pally which has a great vibe and family feel, maybe we should look at using that same venue?
- Characters, Hype and Charisma: TTE, coaches or the players themselves need to develop some charisma. I’ve read some great stories about players like Chester Barnes how he attracted thousands to come and watch him because of his outbursts and vocal statements. I’m not saying have bad boys to draw in the crowd! I’m just saying it would be nice if we had charisma before and during an event to build hype. For example; Nicknames: (‘The Big Show’ – Chris Doran), TTE: publish some bold statements “World Class players will go head to head” Players: send out quotes “I will not drop a set this year”, Coaches; “My player has a new weapon to reveal”.
- Crowds and fans: If you want bums on seats and there are many ways of going about it: 1) Advertise heavily, emails, leaflets sent to every club in England and put adverts on TT websites, newspapers etc. 2) Offer a deal to every qualified coach in England. E.g. a free ticket for the coach and a small discount for every player they bring or push to go, or commission based ticket sales. 3) Send tickets to every club in the country and give them a profit share margin for every ticket sold.
- Make it an event: create fun activities for families, mid-game entertainment, food and beverages etc.
I tried to stay away from the massive negative talk on social media as it really depressed me. I’m a huge believer in our sport. And seeing the most important National TT event in dier state, I felt obliged to offer my solution based ideas and thoughts. Whether TTE takes notice of the outcry from its players and my blog suggestions is beyond me. But at least I’ve done my bit in an attempt to help.
I hope this is a wake-up call for TTE if not it may prove fatal in the (not so long) foreseeable future.
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
FB: Eli Baraty