Posted on Tuesday 26th March, 2024

Image: A Parafed Waikato member serving the ball (photo credit: Halberg Foundation).

  • Serve, Spin, Smash! is a new Para table tennis pilot programme for the community.
  • Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) in partnership with Table Tennis NZ selected Auckland, Canterbury, and Waikato to pilot the 8-week introductory programme.
  • It’s a great example of collaboration across regional and national sport and disability organisations to deliver better outcomes for disabled people.
  • The organisers invite disabled people to sign up for the programme and give Para table tennis a go.

When eight different regional and national sport and disability organisations got around the table to design an introductory Para table tennis programme, they knew they had a unique opportunity to break down barriers.

As PNZ Para Sport Community Manager Marianne Loh explains:

“With the extensive sport knowledge and lived experience of disability around the table, we were able to challenge preconceived notions of what traditional sport programmes look like. We’re pleased to offer an experience that welcomes everyone into the sport of Para table tennis.”

The programme is for disabled people of all ages and abilities. It uses adapted equipment and games to maximise confidence and enjoyment.

The eight organisations which co-designed and are delivering Serve, Spin, Smash! are:

Three games of table tennis are played in an inclusive environment. Some players have wheelchairs.
Three games of table tennis take place in an inclusive environment (photo credit: Parafed Canterbury)

Table Tennis Canterbury Committee Member Kris Alisch explains how Serve, Spin Smash! fits perfectly with the goals of a regional sport organisation:

“At Table Tennis Canterbury we welcome all members of the community and we’ve just completed a significant stadium redevelopment which will provide better accessibility and inclusive opportunities. We are proud to be collaborating with our partner organisations on this new programme growing Para table tennis and supporting New Zealand to be diverse and fully inclusive.”

Calling ‘activators’

The organisers are now looking for disabled people to try the programme, and local ‘activators’ to help deliver it. An activator can be anyone who coordinates sessions, provides general assistance, and/or delivers planned activities or games. They maintain safe and positive engagement of participants (prior table tennis experience and knowledge is not required). Activators will be supported through initial training and a newly developed Serve, Spin, Smash! resource manual that includes easy to follow sessions plans.

Rachel Wu, who is a youth member at Waikato Table Tennis Association was quick to put her hand up for an activator role:

“I’m really looking forward to this programme! Having volunteered at various disability sport events and programmes previously, for me this is a chance to use that experience and step up into more of a leadership role.”

Serve, Spin, Smash! is one of three PNZ Regional Community Para Sport Pilots. These benefit the regions involved, as well as enhance Para sport capability within national sports organisations. This capability will be the foundation for disabled people participating in the Para sport regularly. Ultimately, PNZ wants to see every disabled person have equal opportunity to participate in sport.

Find out more and sign up