SANFORD Link table tennis club are launching a new campaign to increase participation of the sport in the area.

The Stay Active - Stay Healthy venture from Sanford Link and Swindon Sports Forum, with financial backing from the National Lottery is aiming to double particaption at the Link’s table tennis sessions and encourage youngsters into the sport.

The launch event is taking place this Saturday at the Link Centre from 10am, with the sports centre offering the opportunity to play table tennis for free throughout the day. Coaches from the Sanford club will also be on hand to offer tips and advice about the game.

Bowen says he is hoping to address the lack of juniors playing table tennis in Swindon.

“We’ve worked on a project for six or seven months, we’ve got a National Lottery Grant and the objective of getting girls and boys aged nine to 15 into table tennis. It’s for people who aren’t active daily, giving them the opportunity to have some fun,” said Bowen.

“We’re encouraging anybody to come along, and if they want to take it further they have the opportunity.

“The aim is to encourage people to get active and be more healthy, and to get players with potential on to our coaching night on Fridays.

“Swindon has been a bit static in table tennis, but I firmly believe what you put in is what you get out, we’re very enthusiastic about doing this. Swindon unfortunately has lacked something like this for while, what we really need is more people encouraging youngsters to play table tennis.

“Sports like football take priority, table tennis is way down the pecking order. It’s very difficult to compete what with the World Cup on and things like that.”

Bowen hopes to build on the Stay Active - Stay Healthy campaign by getting into schools with the coaches from Sanford and doing sessions to offer further exposure to table tennis and the club.

“The reason I believe table tennis numbers have not improved a lot because no one is going to schools.

“A lot of schools do play table tennis, they do have tables and they would like us to come in, we’ll be offering free coaching once every two weeks to those schools that are interested.”