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Club Connect pilot program serves up winning combo

The Sporting Schools Club Connect program is paving the way for better collaboration between schools, parents and clubs.

Club Connect aims to support primary school students transition from a school-based sporting program to participating at their local sporting club, promoting lifelong engagement in sport.

Table Tennis Australia (TTA) is just one of 18 national sporting organisations (NSOs) involved in the pilot program in 2021, committed to working with schools and teachers to deliver programs outside school hours. With the pilot continuing next year, there are 30 NSOs partnering to deliver Club Connect in 2022.

Crediting their recent success at Anula Primary School to the support from the Darwin Table Tennis Association and school teacher Ryan Starkey, TTA President Graham Symons believes they are on to a winning formula with the Club Connect Spinneroos program.

‘One of the highest priorities for TTA is to accelerate participation in beginner programs for young children and create stronger links for these programs to local clubs,’ said Graham.

‘It has become more important that children are exposed to a range of sports early in their primary school years, in a setting where they can acquire new skills while having fun.

‘We have found the sessions need to be structured so children can experience success - this builds self-esteem and they are more likely to be motivated to continue in the sport.

‘Adapting our offerings to cater for children who aren't necessarily playing because they are motivated to become champions, encourages wider participation in sport,’ Graham said.

children playing table tennis

Teacher Ryan Starkey said Anula Primary used Club Connect grant funding to pay for coaching sessions, four outdoor table tennis tables and related equipment.

‘The coaching sessions have been a fantastic way to engage a range of students across different ages and abilities, in a fun and free program.’

‘Parents have loved the opportunity to get their children involved with coaching and utilising the equipment and expertise provided in their own primary school, around familiar faces,’ Ryan said.

Following the successful example of Anula Primary, other schools are already locked in with the Club Connect program in Victoria, with others expected to participate in South Australia and Queensland.

Sporting Schools Club Connect is an Australian Government initiative. For more information on the Club Connect program visit the Club Connect website.

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Phone: 1300 785 707
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