The sport of Table Tennis took centre stage at a recent Seminar held at the Mildmay Community Centre in Islington.  The event bought together local young people aged 13-19 years old to hear about ‘Inspiring Youth Leadership through Sport.”

The seminar commemorated the legendary Desmond Douglas, former British Table Tennis Champion, and the significant contribution he has made to the sport.

Hosted by the Roots of Sport Project, the event was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund; English Table Tennis Association and Arsenal in the Community.  The great man talked about How Table Tennis Can Change Your Life which was followed by mini tournaments and workshops on table tennis technology with John Giles, English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) Coach. 

A master class on the Power of the Mind in Sport was held with ETTA Coach John Kessie. John is one of the few coaches in the UK who learnt coaching techniques from the Chinese.  He has pioneered Table Tennis development in the local community and is now a Roots of Sport TT pioneer.  

He said “When Roots of Sports Founder Claudine Boothe asked me to design a project I chose Desmond Douglas, he is my hero!  No one has done what he did in the game in the last four decades including winning the English Championship for nine consecutive years!  Telling people about his story is important and so is heritage and history.” 

Roots of Sport, based in Hackney, is a partnership of the Institute of Black Culture, Media and Sport, a social enterprise organisation set up to strengthen and

preserve the presence of African peoples and their descendants living and working in Britain.

Table Tennis legend Desmond Douglas arrived in the UK from Jamaica aged five, with his family.  He came through the ranks winning English and European Junior titles as well as claiming Commonwealth Games Men’s and Mixed doubles to add to his English Champion titles during his stellar career.  He is still highly respected and admired by contemporaries who played with or against him.

Desmond Douglas said “I had an excellent day getting involved with young people and giving them encouragement. Table tennis is a great sport.  You don’t have to be the best player, just get involved, play the game and enjoy it.”

Founder and Chair, Claudine Boothe, says “The Roots of Sport project commemorates leaders who have used sport to transform lives at both grassroots and elite levels. The Table Tennis Seminar launches our activities which include further seminars and exhibitions for badminton and basketball.”

For further information about more sporting seminars Visit

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