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Desmond Dougles

The Roots of Sport Table Tennis project commemorates the life of legendary Desmond Douglas and his seminal contribution to Sport generally, but particularly table tennis. The project consists of both educational and practical focus on the game’s history, the impact Desmond Douglas made on it, primarily the way in which he defeated racist challenges, developed the game and made it truly accessible to diverse communities. During the 1970’s & 1980’s, Desmond Douglas won a total number of 11 titles, was No.1 in Europe and England and ranked No.7 in the world, at a time when the sport was dominated by the Chinese. In 2001, he was ranked 8th in England. Desmond Douglas was the most successful post-war British Table Tennis Champion. His legacy to table tennis is respected by sport elites worldwide. Desmond Douglas has achieved legendary status.


The ‘Roots of Sports Table Tennis project aims is to reach young people and adults from diverse backgrounds, who wish to learn about the sport and celebrate its rich cultural heritage. This will be achieved through a series of exhibitions and workshops:-

  • Seminars/discussions on ‘sport leadership’ and the impact it can have on lives;
  • Educational resources such as CD-ROM or USB memory sticks and interactive media pack;
  • Wall of Fame Exhibition of Table Tennis historical contributors;
  • Exhibition of the history and development of Table Tennis equipment; i.e. ball, bat, rubber sheets, Art and technology in Table Tennis;
  • Presentations in schools, local community centres and youth clubs;
  • Coaching and training workshops on the physical game;
  • Development of a training manual for practical and educational use;
  • Competitions and tournaments within a community cultural framework;
  • Short documentary film about this Roots of Sports Table Tennis project and the development of a rhythmical element of the sport.

Table Tennis Coordinator

John Kessie is a passionate Table Tennis player and coach, with a wealth of knowledge in the creative industries. Over the years he has used this knowledge to ensure that Table Tennis has great impact in the local community. As preparation for 2012 Olympics, John coached two teams (Islington and Hackney) for the London Youth Games in 2008 and 2009. He also assisted in managing Hackney and Islington Tournaments for two consecutive years.

John Kessie currently plays a key role in the management of Mildmay Community Table Tennis Club (MCTTC) which has been established for over four years. His leadership skills have ensured MCTTC is a recognised hub for new TT talent. Under his auspices, MCTTC members have attended the prestigious Cooke and Deaton summer school - one of the best Table Tennis summer schools in the UK-- as part of elite training and preparation routine. MCTTC has also expanded its services to local organisations such as Newington Green School where the club negotiated an initiative giving pupils the opportunity to experience Table Tennis first hand.

John is one of very few coaches in the UK who learnt coaching techniques from the Chinese.  He is a trained level 2 English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) coach and pioneer of Table Tennis development in many ways; for example, he led the Arsenal Table Tennis Club at Mossbourne Academy, in partnership with the Arsenal Community Programme and is now a Roots of Sport TT pioneer.