By Christopher Main, North Ayrshire Table Tennis Club

My name is Christopher Main and I am head coach of North Ayrshire Table Tennis Club which is one of the biggest and most successful table tennis clubs in Scotland. Ten years ago, no young people played table tennis in North Ayrshire until my dad, Billy Main, took the initiative to set up his own club.

Since then, we have had over 500 members join and have introduced table tennis to over 3000 people in our community. We are three times Scottish National League Champions and take great pride in being pro active in promoting our sport and running projects that will benefit the local community. We run classes 6 days per week with over 150 people playing each week.13454331733 8a65b14ab5 k

When I heard that my dad (founder & treasurer of NATTC) had applied to Voluntary Action Fund to deliver an anti-sectarianism project, I first thought “this will be interesting, how can our table tennis club, help tackle such a prevalent issue?” But as you read on, you will see how we are successfully going about this.

I never had any issues with sectarianism as a kid or as an adult, I was aware that it existed but wasn’t aware of the scale and how intense sectarianism can be. As I attended several workshops and discussion days, it was clear that this is a subject which I feel strongly about and would strive in playing my part (even though it might be a small part) in eradicating it from our society.

North Ayrshire Table Tennis Club are currently in their second year of working with the Voluntary Action Fund on delivering our project and this year we have been as proactive as ever as we feel it is a subject which people can relate to very easily; everyone has an opinion on the matter and has maybe had issues with sectarianism in the past.

13454560144 7875cb69db zThere are five main parts to our project as follows;

Anti-sectarianism Ambassadors

We have a group of anti-sectarianism ambassadors ranging from 12 to 60 year old, who are all top nationally ranked players and compete all over the UK. They are influential people who continually raise awareness of sectarianism & the problems it is associated with by networking, publicity and support.

North Ayrshire Open 2014 - Drop in Area

We hold a national table tennis tournament each year which attracts the top 150 players from all over Scotland, including several of the Commonwealth Games players this year. Four of our ambassadors ran an anti-sectarianism drop in area where we had questionnaires for the players to fill out, leaflets on the activities we have been doing and how to access more information on the subject. We received more than 100 questionnaires back and it was intriguing to hear everyone’s views on the subject, including people who live in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Falkirk etc.

Website

From January 2015 we will have a dedicated area of our website (www.northayrshirettc.co.uk) where members and visitors can access online surveys, extracts from newspapers articles, links to websites with information on sectarianism and be able to learn about the subject. The idea was to make it as easy as possible for our members and their families to get information on sectarianism and to be able to access it on a website they are familiar with and aware of.

13454700764 98a87016b8 zCase Studies

We have conducted several case studies and interviews with junior members of our club who have had bad experiences of sectarianism. Some experiences took place at football matches, some at their school and some in their family home. They will give a small presentation to other junior players about their experiences and make them aware of what can be done to help themselves and others.

Inter school activities

This is a big part of our project and has been a fantastic and positive experience for every pupil involved. We run table tennis sessions in several catholic schools and non-denominational schools, which sit directly across from each other and get them playing the game in mixed teams. For example, we run weekly classes in St Matthews Academy and Ardrossan academy inviting pupils from both schools to attend, which provides them with a common interest to enjoy and connect over. We also have discussion sessions, which I facilitate, and take the form of an informal chat in a class room with drinks and food. Pupils have the opportunity to discuss sectarianism between themselves and usually 15 mins into the session most of them will be passionately talking about it and telling everyone their views and what is right and wrong in their opinion.

For more information on the work of NATTC contact Christopher Main at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow them on Twitter @NorthAyrshireTT or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/northayrshiretabletennis.

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Eolene Boyd-MacMillan
Thanks so much, Sarah, downloaded and reading. Terrific!

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