When I was little, my mum and dad used to take me to the local sports centre for some weekend family table tennis in Hong Kong. Although none of us play like Ma Long or Fang Zhang Don at that time, but it was definitely one of the most enjoyable for my family.
Oh yes, I also played at my primary school in Hong Kong too, I signed up for the training classes at school, however the coach gave up on me quickly due to my poor hand-eye coordination skills. She told my mum that I should focus on my studies more, just like the other Asian kids. Ever since then, I just kind of left table tennis, although I loved the sport.
But of course that is not the end of my table tennis journey! I moved to England on my own at the age of 12, mainly to improve my spoken English. YEP!! It’s still not perfect, so if you do not understand me, please google translate it with the option of ‘Chinese Traditional’. Ok back to table tennis!
When I was 14, I moved to The Harefield Academy because of the boarding facility. On the 2nd week of school, a strange bald guy walked up to me and sit down at my table during lunch time.
“Hey buddy where you from?” he asked.
And I answered “Hong Kong…” (With some sort of accent)
“Oh so you’re Chinese! You must be good in table tennis,” he said.
“Yes of course I am, I was number 2 in my previous school,” I answered proudly.
He was so happy that he invited me to the after school club training and expected me to play like those on TV. But I forgot to mention that I was 2nd in my previous school because there were only maybe 3 people, who played table tennis.
I turned up for the Elite training after school from then on, and after getting my ass kicked by every single player in the hall, the coach realised I was not the super Chinese Star he was wishing for. However, he did not give up on me and in fact, he trained me as hard as the others in the team. After 4 years worth of hard work, sweat, and tears, I managed to climb from the bottom 3 of the team out of 30, and ended up 4th in the squad. Through the years, I have picked up variable skills from this amazing coach, in which I developed my playing, communication, life skills and more … After my school years, I was inclined to the coaching aspect of the game as I was inspired by my coach.
Oh I almost forgot to mention who is this legendary coach I was talking about the whole time! He is ELI BARATY.
To be continued…