and Olav in 2010
- When I was walking at the Strand close to the house we had
bought in Queensland, Australia, a person came up to me and
said: "What are you doing here, Terry?"
It was Paul Jones, one of the players
from the Academy in Logan. I had done a pilot project there
for Table Tennis Queensland when I was the state director of
coaching in 1991-92 (see previous article - click here).
Paul was now the full-time coach for
the table tennis club in Townsville. We had a chat about good,
old days, and then he said that he wanted me to help him to
get the intensity up at his practising sessions in the city.
I said that I was finished with table
tennis and that I was sure he was doing a good job on his own.
Paul had been very happy with his improvements
in Logan with wins over Queensland's best players.
Olav wanted to try
For about two years Paul asked me every time he saw me if I
could help him but I always managed to say no. But the one day
during a rainy Christmas/New Year school holidays in 2007/8
he managed to give Olav a "come-and-try"-flyer. Olav
wanted to try and I was stupid enough to say yes.
I had been at the club once with Paul
and it seemed like he was doing a good job with squad training
and social activities for the players. And I believed that Olav
would stick to his tennis when the rain stopped. Wrong. He wanted
to keep on playing table tennis.
So there I was, at the table tennis
hall three times a week sitting at a chair watching Olav play.
Well, I have always enjoyed coaching - so it went the way it
had to; I said yes to help Paul - "just a little bit".
So after a meeting with the club it
was decided that I should give Paul a hand.
I was surprised to see that so many of the players were veterans.
Paul had a couple of young players but the majority was players
from about 40 and upwards. In Norway and else in Scandinavia
it was the youngsters that did regular practising - not the
veterans! The oldies had a hit now and then with each other
and played in a few tournaments, but squad training - no!
I also discovered that the players were
used to do a lot of one-to-one practising with the coach. This
did not exist in Scandinavia - all coaching were done in squads.
The club started to cut down Paul's
hours, so private coaching was a much needed extra income for
him and his family.
Paul was not only a coach but also a
good player, so one-to-one playing with the best players was
ok with him but since I had concentrated on becoming a good
coach I was not a very good player. I had played as a reserve
in the team a couple of times for my Norwegian club Fokus, but
my level was far from Paul's (to read about this - click here)!
Help the players at the tables
At first Paul wanted me to walk up and down along the tables
and motivate with loud "Come on, guys!", "Yes
- good work!" and so on. Well, not all the players liked
this and of course it was kind of waste of resources with two
coaches for such a small squad. So after a while Paul thought
it would be a good idea if he joined the squad so that he could
help the players at the tables by playing with them in the exercises.
Then I could lead the squad sessions. This would also suit him
better since he now was studying to get an extra job so that
he could support his family; he could not commit as much as
worked quite well. We discussed training methods and co-operated
on how to develop each player. The only disagreement that I
remeber that we had was that I wanted the players to move their
feet all the time, while Paul wanted them to stand still doing
basic strokes. Paul's view was common in Australia but not in
Scandinavia (and Asia).
Jones and Olav
Something had to be done
After helping Paul out as a coach for a while I realized that
the juniors needed better follow up. The coaching itself was
ok but the attitude towards table tennis as a serious sport
was not good enough; not if the players and the club should
prosper. Something had to be done - and an academy like the
one we have had in Logan seemed to be a way to go.
Paul liked the idea and in 2009 we
prepared a paper that was presented at a board meeting at the
club (to read the paper - click here).
The response was shocking negative! To this day I do not understand
partner & Cook Islands
had played tennis and soccer for a couple of years so his ball-skills
were good enough to improve fast. His forehand loop was a bit
long, of course, but he got them on the table with spin and
a nice curve.
In April 2010 Olav and I travelled
to New Zealand so that he could play in the ITTF Global Junior
Circuit Event. He had Norwegian passport so first we had to
ask the Norwegian association if he could play. "Great,
Terry, we will send you his uniform and enter Olav as a player
and you as the coach", was the reply.
I helped out at an international coaching camp (86 players from
16 countries) two days before the tournament
started - I was responsible for the multiball practising the
did well in the tournament; he beat all the players from Fiji
and Cook Island in the team events together with a young boy
from Kiribati. He did not manage to get through from his pool
in the cadet U15 singles,
but in the consolation he got all the way to the finals!
Olav also played in the Queensland junior
championships in July the same year and got a gold medal in
U13-doubles (with Rayden Smith) and silver in teams! And was
selected to play in the Australian junior championships.
The Australian juniors was a bit too
tough but next year Olav got another gold in the Queensland
championships, this time in mixed double (with Rebekah Stanley)!
has also played table tennis in Norway. He and I travelled to
Norway in 2008 so that I could see my mother and father; they
were more than 80 years old and getting sick. Olav meet my table
tennis friends and have a hit in the Fokus-hall. Yes, he even
played in a Fokus-team in a series for the very young ones and
got a medal! And he was surprised to hear that about every adult
he met had been coached by me, they now had their own kids playing!
silver in teams
My parents died in 2009 and in 2012
Olav and I visited Norway again (to see my daughter Sonia who
was studying there), This time Olav played for my club in the
Norwegian Cadet Championships. Olav played in the Fokus
B-team and they got all the way to the finals in
boys teams - where they lost 0-5 to Fokus A.
Olav also played in a couple of tournaments.
Even I was kept busy; in one tournament I helped to coach about
all the Fokus-player at the table like in the old days, I even
coached Norway nr 1 junior (Eskil Lindholm) in the Open Men
finals against an imported Chinese player (Eskil lost but he
got a set!).
the committees were scrapped
In 2009 Paul and I had also thought it would be good if the
club had a coaching committee. Not that is was that many coaches,
but we tried to get somebody helping out with new beginners
and it is always good if the coaches can have meetings and decide
together. We made a paper to the board, and also suggested a
development committee and a social/economical committee. This
was accepted and the committees formed (the president even managed
to get a capacity that had helped form professional sporting
clubs in Townsville to sit in the Development Committee).
But it did not take long before all
the committees were scrapped - it was felt that everybody at
the club's management board should get involved (to see the
paper on coaching committee - click here).
major source of income
The club had lost a major source of income; bingo. Paul was
no longer employed full-time and had to find other means of
getting income to his family. I had to try to get things going
on my own, with Paul just joining the squad now and then.
had told the President of the club at the time that I could
do the job for free, - that I was used to do table tennis coaching
for free, like in Fiji - but he said that I had to get paid
for the hours I put in: All coaches should get paid, was his
point of view.
Of course I should never have accepted.
I should have realized that when the hours were added up after
a few months then 20 dollars per hour would come to more money
than they had realized it would be!
Well, I did quite a lot without getting
paid as well. I run the Friday Fixtures and planned activities
to promote our sport. I also tried hard to get kids from the
schools to try table tennis. Not easy, but I managed to fill
the hall with at least two players at each table!
Thought that the club had closed
There were very few tournaments in North Queensland so in 2009
I planned and arranged what I called "All Ages Tournament"
- with team and single events for everybody from cadets to veterans.
It must be said to have been a great success, with teams/players
from Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton. '
wanted me to arrange it again in a months time or so and on
a regular basis, but the committee at that time did not seem
very keen - and I do not know why. So it never happened.
Invitation Series 2009
also wanted to get back again the young players that had quit
when Paul had to step down, and planned a tournament/series
especially for them. But unfortunately I had to travel to Norway
because my parents died when we started to ring around, and
it seemed that the club did not manage to get hold of many -
if any. No more talk about a series.
Also a lot of the new kids I had managed
to recruit were gone - and I heard by a father of two young
brothers that they thought that the club had closed down; they
had been there two weeks on the normal day but the door was
I had not lost contact with my friends in Fiji - and one of
the players I had in my squad some years ago was now the
of Fiji Table Tennis. He invited me to hold an international
coaching camp prior to the Fiji Open in December 2011.
Great; I could do some coaching again
(you should by now understand that I really like to do table
tennis coaching!) and Olav could play in an international tournament!
The participants came from Fiji, Salomon
Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Australia;
many of them were national junior representatives. And a number
of experienced national coaches and senior players helped me
out at the tables.
Knowing the Pacific attitude I tried
to make exercise that could motivate everybody. I also used
a number of exercises the better players were used to from the
Oceania camp. And made sure that the youngest and most inexperienced
ones had a lot of fun exercises, like hitting cups, and playing
My program had emphasis on footwork
and attacking skills, and also
a development day by day ;
stepping up from simple exercises to more
difficult exercises - and then to more match-like ones. Multi-ball-practising
in the afternoon (sometimes with two players on one side) and
to make it a bit more fun when the players got a bit tired in
the hot afternoon!
It must be allowed to say the camp was
successful; the players worked hard and improved their skills!
We were so happy that we followed up with a very simular training
camp the next year!
And Olav was happy to meet some table tennis friends again -
and make some new ones. And bring a good
haul of trophies back home!
December 2009 I did an effort to motivate the club in Townsville
to improve the situation: I got the board's permission to conduct
a Coaches' Workshop. The objective was to "strengthen cooperation
between coaches working in Townsville and establish a common
platform so that they can follow the same principles/guidelines
(for all players in TTTA)". And the goal was to "get
enough, and capable, coaches looking after all the players,
from beginners to advanced players from January 2010".
put a lot of effort into the planning and hoped that we could
have a positive meeting with everybody discussing coaching methods
and players' development. I was as good as the only coach with
certificate in Townsville but might be this could motivate to
a positive development?
Europe you have to choose if you want to be a good player
or a good coach, you can not be both!
I was pleased to see that the majority
of the players turned up but then I got a shock: They cancelled
the workshop before it got started!
(To read the program for the workshop click here)
to improve his game
Well, things seemed to go from bad to worse in Townsville. The
club cancelled the squad-practising on Thursdays, stopped the
junior fixtures on Fridays and also kept the venue closed on
Olav wanted to improve his game but
we knew very well that he would have to practise more than two
days a week if he wanted to play on an international level -
or even Australian level! What should I do?
and Olav with trophy
A school close to where we live had a new multi purpose hall.
Might be I could use that venue so that Olav and the few other
keen players could practise there on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
it was not so easy. The school said that to use the hall one
needed to be a club, and also have insurance. The only way
for me to get cheap insurance was to establish table tennis
club affiliated with Table Tennis Queensland (TTQ). So I started
a new club in December 2010: Table Tennis Academy Townsville.
The meaning was that Olav and I, and others that wanted to
have extra practising, should be members of two clubs (to
read about it click here).
I thought everybody would be happy
- I had always heard in board meeting when I was a member
of the committee that there should be more than one club in
Townsville. But no. Olav was told that he could not play in
the weekly fixtures since he was a member of another club.
I wanted to hold a friendly "Stockland
Challenge" - a team match between the Academy and Townsville
Table Tennis, played at the largest supermarket in the city.
The purpose was to show people that table tennis was more
than "a hobby you do in your garage on rainy days"
and also to give the players a chase to play in front of public.
The other club said no. Well, luckily two of their members
were also members of a church, and they formed a "church
It was a very positive event, with
people passing through the shopping centre stopping to watch.
Olav and Paul won the team match and got a big trophy.
Build a club from scratch
It might be that the other club thought that the Academy was
a threat to them; there were rumours that I wanted to steal
their members. But as Paul said it: "But Terry, why do
they say such a thing; you do not want any of their members,
do you?!" No I did not. Everybody was welcome to play
at Belgian Gardens School no matter which club they belonged
but I definitely did not want any of the veterans at the other
club to swap to the Academy - I wanted young kids to start
playing table tennis! The main objective of the Academy was,
as you can read here:
- First of all to involve children in table tennis as a sport,
with emphasis on fitness and competitive skills.
Paul also said the following in a
letter to TTQ:
"I think that he has been unjustly maligned for this
and also once again completely misunderstood by certain people
who really don't understand his goals and intentions or who
are using it as an excuse to hit out at him and as an excuse
for some pretty doubtful exclusionary practices."
It some of the players wanted to be
member of the Academy as well as TTTA, that was fine with
me, but I have never had any interest in coaching veterans
- in Norway they do not practise on a regular basis! I wanted
to build a club from scratch - with young kids!
Plane for more than 2 hours
I had honestly believed that the other club should be grateful
that I took on the job of starting another table tennis club
in Townsville. I had learned that it was not much of offer
when it came to competitions: One open tournament in the year;
that was all besides the weekly Fixtures. The nearest club
was more than four hours drive away, and they had nothing
more on offer. If Olav wanted to play against good players
of his own age we had to take the plane for more than 2 hours
to get to Brisbane!
were 16 soccer clubs in the Townsville area - and they had
a series for the young kids every Saturday. If we wanted table
tennis to prosper in Townsville we would need more than one
club; the more clubs the better! And it had to be something
on offer for them!
More to follow!