Involve Youth Players to Grow Table Tennis in Midwest
Administrators, parents, players, coaches and many others involved with the sport know that the future of American table tennis relies heavily on the participation and growth of its youth programs. Recently, great strides have been made in this area, including dedicated junior training programs, increased opportunity for international competition and improved national and international results from American players. However, these programs have largely been concentrated on the east and west coasts, with many fewer programs for juniors in the Midwest, Great Plains and Mountain regions.
The lack of young players in the Midwest was evident at this year’s 2014 Butterfly Badger Open. Only 10 players entered the Under 18 event at the Badger Open, compared to 30 who entered the Over 40 event. Parents expressed difficulties in getting their children excited about the sport, as they are often the only young players at their clubs. The Midwest also covers a huge distance, and is sparsely populated compared to the coasts, providing increased difficulty in travel time to competitions.
Nevertheless, families, club directors and juniors are dedicated to improving and growing the sport in their Midwestern hometowns. From creating “table tennis clubs” within schools, bringing in talented coaches to develop future champions to developing youth leagues in major cities, devoted volunteers and enthusiasts are making sure that table tennis succeeds and grows in their region. Providing large scale tournaments, such as the Badger Open, for juniors to meet and compete against each other remains a crucial piece to building junior talent in the Midwest.
Continual coverage of the 2014 Butterfly Badger Open and stories about the athletes will be available at butterflyonline.com, or via Butterfly North America’s twitter and facebook pages.