Based in the small Sheffield town of Darnall, Albert Premier Table Tennis Club provides a friendly and supportive environment for young people to play table tennis make new friends and receive expert coaching from club leader, Shaun Alvey.
However, in 2013 things were not so positive. Faced with mounting debts, the club was in real danger of closing its doors for the last time.
Determined not to let this happen, Sported served Albert Premier Table Tennis Club a lifeline by awarding a volunteer business mentor and grant to secure its long-term future. Thanks to this vital support, the club continues to thrive to this day.
Megan Shackleton (15), Great Britain Para Table Tennis player and proud club member, explains how Shaun and Albert Premier Table Tennis Club changed her life.
I went to a Playground to Podium event in Leeds where Shaun was coaching and he noticed that I had a bit of talent, so he invited me to come along to the club. I hadn’t really played table tennis before, but after going I really enjoyed it and realised that this is was something that I wanted to do.
I live an hour and half away from the club – there’s not a lot of table tennis clubs around where I live – but with Shaun being experienced in coaching disability table tennis, it just seemed like the right thing to do if I wanted to take it up further.
I made lots of friends, but mostly I liked learning about the game – all the rules, technique and everything that comes with it. Shaun was instrumental – he invited me along when he realised I had talent and after that he couldn’t keep me away! Because Shaun has a disability himself, he knows a lot about the game and tactics to work around your disability.
Albert Table Tennis is in quite an under-privileged area, so it gives kids the opportunity to focus on something positive and develop their skills, rather than just hang about on the streets.
Sport boosts your self-confidence, I’ve met a lot of great people through table tennis and I get to travel around a lot competing. I’m now part of the Great Britain squad, so train in Sheffield full-time. The dream is to qualify for Rio. I’m planning on going to sixth form after school and balance that with training, but after that I’d like to go to university and study something like sports journalism.