I welcome you on behalf of the English Table Tennis Association to the Tees Sport City Of Liverpool Grand Prix supported by the Liverpool Sports Development Unit, the first of this season's Grand Prix series. The Grand Prix series continues to go from strength to strength, with participation and quality of play increasing with every event, whilst our hardworking Events Department continues to seek out the best facilities whilst keeping costs down. 

Table tennis is involved in a number of new programmes and initiatives including "Ping!" which has taken place in London, Birmingham and Hull, and "Change 4 Life", providing free equipment and coaching in over 750 schools in conjunction with School Sport Partnerships. The Playground to Podium, Premier League 4 Sport and the PE & Sport Strategy for Young People are underway which has resulted in 25 new full and part-time appointments of Club Support and Coaching Officers. 

Work continues in areas such as social media initiatives, women in sport, TT in the workplace, 16-18 drop outs, recruitment and support for technical officials and volunteers, league and club initiatives, increased coaching/coaches and facilities assistance, which will contribute to the outcomes that both table tennis and our funding partners want with an increase in participation and membership for table tennis.

Investments and modernisation of the results, ranking and tournament management systems are taking place over the next 12 months which will benefit not just the Grand Prix circuit but many other areas of our sport, including the provision this season of a free League Manager programme for all leagues. Some realignment has taken place in support of our present and future international players by the ETTA Selection Department to increase the talent pool, and extra regional and national training and performance clubs are being set up. 

The 2011 ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals will take place on 24th-27th November 2011 at the ExCeL in London, the Olympic venue. This is the biggest event of the Pro Tour series, with the best players from the international circuit and a total prize fund of $365,000, tickets are available via the ETTA website. British players will take part in the singles and doubles events as well as a team match against the Rest of the World. 

A British Open at the EIS Sheffield on 14th to 18th September run by the British Table Tennis Association for People with Disabilities will take place as part of the Factor 40 programme for the Paralympics.

Results from the latest Sport England Active People survey show that table tennis once a month participation has grown during the last period from 217,100 to 251,300, and we are one of three only funded sports to show a growth. The 'once a week' regular participation has grown in the same period from 86,200, to 114,800 and in this category we are again one of only three sports. 

It is interesting also to note that from the 2007/8 to the 2010/11 results our sport shows a once a week growth of 75,600 to 114,800 and once a month from 196,700 to 251,300. 

Copies of the Ron Crayden 2000 Club initiative will be included in this programme; please join, it is to raise income to support non-funded players and give our young players the additional opportunities they deserve. 

The Grand Prix programme could not run without the help and support of many local volunteers, the Grand Prix Committee, referees and umpires, the tireless work of Mick Strode, the Grand Prix sponsors, Tees Sport and Bribar Table Tennis, the ETTA Events Department of Diccon Gray, Matthew Porter and Vanda Jones, and last but not least, your support for the events. I hope you have a great weekend both on and off the table and look forward to seeing you at a number of events, and as always I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Alex Murdoch ETTA Chairman