There aren’t many children who run around their back gardens screaming the name of their favourite table tennis player having played a game of ping pong. (That said, the only ping pong they’ve ever played in their back garden is probably the song by Enrique Iglesias.)
Indeed, the sport is undoubtedly on the periphery in the outside world. However, it is clear from talking to captain Oran Donovan, that table tennis is an important staple in intervarsity life, with the paddle and balls bringing unrivalled social, and competitive opportunities.
Donovan himself has been “involved from the get-go” becoming a “member in the Fresher’s Week of first year”. As a third year now, he has been club captain for two years. If anyone knows Trinity Table Tennis, it is this man. “You could say our club is one of the smaller clubs in the college, averaging about 150 members or so a year.” This small membership however, is no deterrent to high levels of activity. “We pride ourselves on being a club that’s active both competitively and socially. We compete in two college league events each year, in addition to one Intervarsity tournament. We’re also currently the only University team to participate in the Leinster Table Tennis League.”
It is clear from the off that life with Trinity Table Tennis is busy, but undoubtedly rewarding, with a little something for everyone. However, one issue with taking part in so many competitions is that newcomers may feel a little intimidated. This is something Donovan has worked hard to counteract. “One of the main issues I’ve been trying to overcome is that club membership can be perceived as being reserved for the elite, which tends to intimidate prospective members.” This couldn’t be further from the case. “When we do hold social tournaments in the Pav, like ‘Paddle at the Pav’, we draw many non-members, who quickly realise that we are very accessible to players of all levels.” Furthermore, Trinity Table Tennis “tends to be a popular choice for collaboration events with other clubs and societies.”
“Table Tennis is just as much fun when you’re 10 pints deep as it is playing in a national competition.”
This makes the society an enticing prospect for potential professionals and college socialites alike. Donovan is keen to stress this, noting that “Table Tennis is just as much fun when you’re 10 pints deep as it is playing in a national competition. Just ask anyone who has had the privilege of doing both!” In fact, this group of ping pongers are so welcoming to new members, that their reach has extended beyond students. “Having grafted to get a table up to the third floor of Botany Bay accommodation, many a maintenance worker has said that they’d love to stay and have a game with us. I think they find the novelty of such a large object in a student kitchen pretty amusing.” While this is indicative of how welcoming the society is, it is also testament to the importance of sports clubs, small, medium or large, in Trinity as a whole, by virtue of their inherently positive impact on community spirit.
For those looking to get involved in this niche group of table-based Federers and Sharapovas in a post Covid-19 world, Donovan notes that training takes place twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays, with “external coaches for competitive players,” and “free play for all abilities simultaneously facilitated.” In essence, “it’s a relatively inexpensive and straightforward sport to get involved in,” making it the perfect new hobby for anyone to take up during their college journey.