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Team Ireland and some of their coaches at the 2020 Paralympics in Malmo Sweden
A Development Squad travelled to Malmo, Sweden, in February 2020 to represent TTI in the annual Malmo Paralympic Open Competition. The squad was one of the largest in recent years with 12 players from all three Paralympic classes and three provinces represented. The Irish squad was the largest single group of players among the 8 countries, 40 clubs, and 124 players who entered the Malmo Open this year. Supporting the 12 players were coaches/managers/minders Susan Keating and Mick Cunningham, along with additional coaching from Rachel, Hiroto and Chinatsu, who also assisted when coaches were under pressure to cover all of the matches.
While the overall approach to the competition was one of developing the skills and confidence in emerging players, the overall medal haul shows that they are well on the way on that journey – a whopping 2 gold, 5 silvers and 2 bronze medals with an additional 5 quarter-finalists in the knockout stages of a number of classes.
Coming Together around the Table
Beechhill has taken Kinsale Road under it’s wing. I coach there one day a week and Philip comes along when he can. I can teach the players the basics of the game and organise tournaments. There is only one table at the centre. The players are from all different parts of the world and don’t know each other when they first play, but table tennis allows people to come together and breaks down the barriers between them.
The players have had two in house tournaments so far, one in August and the latest in October. Players got the opportunity in September to play outside of the centre and integrate with the wider Munster table tennis community. Thanks to the community Garda Bus and Beechhill sponsorship, the players were able to take part in the Munster Fun Mixed Club League. They must have been daunted by the skill of the other clubs but they joined in and had fun anyway. They knew the etiquette of saying sorry after winning a fluke point, to shake hands after each match and how to umpire with due care.
The next step is to organise an outing to another club maybe for a Christms tournament? We will see!
See some photos of their adventures below!