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Game-on for budding table tennis players

16 September 2021

For two weeks in August 2021, millions of eyes around the world tuned into one of the most unique Olympics Games ever held.

For Australia, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was an equal best-ever effort, with a total of 46 medals collected across 14 days of competition.

Back home in Queensland, children watched as Olympians flew through the air, sped down the pool and raced around the track.

Table Tennis was one sport that captured the hearts of Australians, with athletes such as Jian Fang Lay, who was competing in her sixth Olympics.

And thanks to the Queensland Government’s FairPlay voucher program, eligible Queensland children from low-income families now have a better chance of living out those dreams and getting involved in sports like table tennis or another of their favourite physical activities.

We sat down with Brisbane Table Tennis Association (BTTA) CEO Derek Scott to find out more about the club, which has welcomed many families through the FairPlay voucher program over the years.

How many players makes up the Brisbane Table Tennis Association (BTTA)? 
We have 262 current members and about 150 regular social players at BTTA, across six different divisions and ability levels. We have both male and female teams representing the association and for internal competitions, male and female competitors compete together in mixed competition.

What do you think is the best thing about Brisbane Table Tennis?
The best thing about BTTA is the inclusive nature of the association. We have participants in their 80s playing socially, and children from five years learning the basics and every age group in between. Everyone is made welcome here. Recently we were lucky to have the Australian Olympic team practicing for Tokyo 2020 and they were training at the same time as pensioners and a junior training camp.

How important do you think programs like FairPlay are in getting people active? 
The FairPlay voucher program is undoubtedly a tremendous initiative, encouraging and supporting children from low-income families to take up sport. It’s important that kids don’t miss out, given the importance of sport to health and well-being. For us in table tennis, it’s great to attract new members to our sport.

Did you notice any increase in interest following the Olympics?
Yes, we have had a noticeable increase in interest from parents looking to start their children in our coaching groups since Tokyo 2020. There has also been a bit of interest since the announcement of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Does your club travel to interstate competition?
Many of our members represent Queensland at National Championships interstate. Given the huge distances, there is not much interstate play between clubs.

Have you had any players make the national team and compete overseas?
Yes, we have had a number of club members represent Australia both in junior and senior level. Unfortunately our best players just missed out on selection for Tokyo.

Are you excited about the possibilities for Brisbane Table Tennis and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Yes, we are very excited about the sporting legacy in terms of infrastructure and interest in our sport from the Brisbane 2032 announcement. I am sure that many of our members will be keen to be involved as volunteers at the 2032 Games and be part of the world's greatest event.

And for a Brisbane father of two, FairPlay has been a huge help providing crucial support to get his kids involved in the BTTA.

“Both my children enjoy playing multiple sports so the costs of these activities can quickly add up.

“FairPlay has allowed my children to regularly participate in the great sport of Table Tennis at the Brisbane Table Tennis Association.

“Since they have started the Junior Training Program at the club, their skills have improved immensely, as well as making new friends and having a great time. This has all been possible thanks to the FairPlay voucher program.”

FairPlay offers a $150 voucher towards membership, registration or participation fees. For this year’s program, vouchers must be redeemed with one of the many FairPlay registered Activity Providers by 10 November 2021.

Since the program kicked off in July 2019, more than $14 million of vouchers have been redeemed.