Where to play table tennis in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Coquitlam

Barriers to Table Tennis Access

Barriers exist in BC that limit access to table tennis for individuals and groups. Let's take a look at some of them.

Table tennis is consistently ranked among the top-10 most-played sports in the world with an estimated 300 million participants around the globe. As those who play the sport know, it’s an inexpensive, challenging, healthy and social activity for all ages and abilities with few barriers to access. But where barriers to access exist, it can be frustrating. This is particularly true for parents of young kids who love the sport. Kids represent the future of our sport but access for this group is particularly limited. In this article we take a look at barriers to accessing table tennis here in Vancouver and beyond, especially for young people, and as you’ll see, there are some unusual and unexpected sources of frustration. But there is an answer and it begins with players like you advocating for access to table tennis wherever you can. Add your voice. Change the status quo. You too can become an agent for removing barriers to access.

Barrier:

#1

The BC Table Tennis Association (BCTTA)

Ironically, the BCTTA is supposed to be an association of stakeholders within the sport who work together to improve access to the sport. Instead, the current BCTTA is run by a small group of closely allied individuals who monopolize all available public funding to run programs exclusively at a table tennis facility in Richmond owned by the BCTTA president. What is the effect on table tennis in BC? This monopoly results in reduced access to organized table tennis in general, no community outreach programs, no inter-club competitions, and generally zero support for players outside of a small group of players who regularly play at Bridgeport Table Tennis Club. A majority of players from across BC who make up the diverse population of participants is left out of the action. What can you do? Contact ViaSport, the BCTTA funding agency with your written complaints about the BCTTA or this monopoly will continue. Also, we urge you to not interact with the BCTTA in order to avoid frustration and disappointment.

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Barrier:

#2

Your local municipal council

Is your local parks board or municipal council doing enough to create opportunities for citizens to access free public table tennis? The solution is as simple as table tennis infrastructure in your local park. Cheaper to build and maintain than a tennis court, a table tennis court requires almost no maintenance over its decades of life. Imagine groups of kids and teens flocking to parks, taking up the sport for free, building skills and positive relationships. We foresee numbers seniors and adults also enjoying the health and social benefits of having access to table tennis infrastructure in parks. With more than 1 dozen tables in its parks, Burnaby is the municipality to watch for the next wave of growth in table tennis. What can you do? Contact your local parks commissioners to ask them to treat table tennis like tennis and plan for table tennis infrastructure in all parks.

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Barrier:

#3

Your local community centre

In 2024, there should be no community centre anywhere without a table tennis table. Period. A TT table will last decades, just check out the Dom tables at Dunbar and Creekside, all from the 1980's! Today's TT tables are better built, better performing, and store efficiently such that 8 tables can be stored in a corner of a typical equipment room. When we called community centres for our survey of table tennis in Vancouver community centres, we were surprised to discover several community centres had no access to table tennis. What can you do? Urge your local community centres to consider table tennis to be a real sport, ask them to invest in equipment and offer programs for kids, adults and seniors.

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Barrier:

#4

Your local school

In decades past, table tennis was included as both a curricular and extra curricular sport in Vancouver's schools at the elementary and high school levels. What happened? Generally speaking, advocates within the school system retired while table tennis equipment decayed due to age and sometimes inappropriate storage. These days, access to table tennis is limited to extra-curricular activities in high schools here and there and is not introduced within the PE curriculum unlike other racquet sports such as tennis and badminton. What can you do? Urge the VSB to consider the health and social benefits of table tennis and ask them to reintegrate table tennis into the curriculum, and to ensure every school has access to at least one table tennis table.

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Barrier:

#5

Societal biases

In Europe and Asia, for example, public table tennis tables abound in city squares and parks, while the sport itself is taken very seriously by the citizens of these nations in general. All of the world's best table tennis players are created under these conditions. Consider this map of table tennis access, North America versus Europe and you'll see the bias is clear. Table tennis is not taken seriously enough in north America. In Sweden, international table tennis matches are like hockey games in Canada, electrifying events with crowds of chanting and cheering beer drinking fans, many in costume, each point each rally met with deafening response. There is progress, though. In 2022, investors in the US seeing an exciting opportunity launched Major League Table Tennis, an intercity league much like other sports that is currently drawing crowds in Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Texas, Florida, Chicago and Princeton. What can you do? Groups in cities around Canada and the US should form teams and start more grass-roots table tennis leagues. In Vancouver in the 1980's there were dozens of teams representing a huge array of groups participating in a very popular league. Let's make that happen again.

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Here are some agencies to connect with as you advocate for table tennis access:

Click on any logo listed here to lead to useful information on contacting the agency. Each of the agencies listed has capacity to change the status quo. It’s up to you to remind capable people of their responsibilities to people like you.