Beech Hill Table Tennis Club –a brief history
The Club was founded in 2001 by Terence McSweeney and Rory O’Connor with the assistance of the Cork Table Tennis Association and the COPE Foundation.
Initially the club set out to cater for junior players in the local schools and to provide an additional sporting outlet for the clients of the COPE Foundation in an integrated environment.
The mainstream players competed in provincial, schools and Community games, with a fair degree of success. Many of the junior players gained Interprovincial Honours. Given the standard of the facilities and expertise of the coaching staff, the club was appointed as a Centre of Excellence by Munster Table Tennis. A number of Interprovincial training camps took place at the club and many of the club’s coaches were involved with Munster teams down the years.
Hand in hand with the above the club was also developing a very active Special Olympic section. These players played in the Munster Games and many went on the represent Ireland at both the Europeans and World games, again with notable success.
By 2005 a number of senior members, many from mainland Europe and especially talented players from Eastern Europe, where table tennis is very strong, joined the club. This was a further boost to the development of the club. This all lead to the club having notable success at all levels of national competition with a number of players going the represent the country at junior, Senior and Veteran events.
By 2007 the club had also attracted a small number of Senior Paralympic wheelchair users. This added yet another dimension to the club. So the club set about creating a dedicated Paralympic section, in association with Rebel Wheelers to cater especially for a group of junior wheelchair players. The success of this project ultimately lead to the setting up of the first National Development Paralympic Table Tennis Squad.
Since 2015 the club has been pursuing a twin track approach to inclusion in the sport of table tennis in Cork, seeking independent registration as a community club member of Special Olympics Ireland, while moving towards affiliation as a stand-alone club with Table Tennis Ireland.
Building on the hosting of an invitational event, involving young players from table tennis clubs in Munster, in November of 2015, the Club helped create history in table tennis in Ireland with the participation of 12 players with an intellectual impairment in the Munster Open event on 17 January 2016 in Neptune Stadium. The Club has also joined the Cork SportsAbility Forum, along with other pioneering inclusive sports in Cork such as the FAI Football for All, Basketball for All and Judo for All, in order to promote the drive to greater inclusion in sport. The Club is looking forward to working with the Munster branch of Table Tennis Ireland to further develop the use of tournaments and invitational events at club level, whereby the opportunity for greater participation of intellectually impaired players, including service users with Cope Foundation, in mainstream table tennis can be achieved.