#TableTennisUnited: Fun Table Tennis Training for Children in the South of Ukraine
#TableTennisUnited, the fundraising campaign powered by ITTF Foundation and sponsored by ITTF and WTT, has extended its support to the Kherson Sports Club, ensuring the training opportunity for the children affected by the current warfare.
It all started with a dream.
“Coming from the midsize town of Kherson in the south of Ukraine, my dad, Viacheslav Sandakov, is a passionate table tennis player. Back in the 80s, when he was giving me bicycle rides to school, he used to tell me everything he knew about table tennis. He also promised me that one day he would open his own sports club to share his human-focused approach to table tennis training with the kids and adults of the city of Kherson. Years later, after we played our first tournament in the ready-built club in the 2010s, his dream eventually became reality.” – Alexei Sandakov.
Some years later, as his father was forced to emigrate, Alexei – Viacheslav's son – took over the initiative. In 2018, Alexei reopened Kherson´s Sports Club and, in 2021, initiated a children’s group, which was a great success. Until today and despite the ongoing adversities in the Kherson Oblast, the Sports Club stays active and remains the only open table tennis club in the city.
Due to the invasion, many trained kids had to leave the region with their parents. However, following the recent success of the children´s group, Alexei and his fellow trainers want to step in and provide table tennis sports opportunities for the city´s remaining kids. One evening, the trainers-team placed a table in a municipal park and assessed it with games to draw their attention. With this gamified approach, the children were thrilled and eager to learn more about the sport and how to play it. Another successful action for the kids of war-torn Kherson.
With its societal development character, Kherson’s Sports Club is recently registered as a non-governmental organisation. In line with this, the ITTF Foundation is supporting the dignified approaches of the club financially, as every critical project needs financial backing. Additionally, the ITTF Foundation will assist with providing essential table tennis equipment for the club's development, as their trainers are constantly looking for new members to commonly keep up the spirits of table tennis against all odds. Currently, they train around ten children permanently, and due to their joyful and personal approach, this number will keep growing.
Kherson’s Sports Club is passionate about improving the quality of table tennis training. That´s why they started a video training game where kids can level up by successfully testing for stances, warm-ups, In Pai philosophy (Chinese philosophy of stroke before hitting the ball), different grip styles, strokes, and many more. Also, concerning the video training, Kherson’s Sports Club is seeking a partner club and welcomes any collaboration or assistance. May it be in the form of equipment, morale building for the kids through online training sessions, consulting support on elements of strokes, or to broaden the cultural horizon. If you or your club feel addressed, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ITTF Foundation calls out to all ITTF Member Associations and the worldwide table tennis community to stand in solidarity with those affected by past and current warfare. We must provide them with opportunities to keep their dreams alive and one of which is through table tennis activities.
Photographs by Kherson's Sports Club