All this sudden time out of school has got me thinking about what I miss most about being in school and which parts of my work are the most effective at reaching young people. During my 4 years at Leeds Faith in Schools, at 3 different schools, I have been involved in some kind of table tennis group. At Benton Park I always loved playing table tennis with the students at our after school drop-in. At Abbey Grange I started a Table Tennis Club that ran for over 2 years, and now at Bishop Young I’ve joined an existing table tennis club that runs every week after school.
At all 3 groups I can think of multiple key relationships that started from not knowing a young person at all, to growing a friendship that allowed us to have deeper conversations and opened up various conversations about faith and life. Why is playing table tennis so effective at building relationships? Put simply, I just think having a fun activity or sport instantly puts people at ease. There’s no pressure to have a long conversation, but equally there are lots of opportunities to encourage them, ask them how their day has been and respond to the mood that they are in at that given time.
Some of my best mentoring relationships with students have started with playing a game of table tennis. And although, I might get a bit rusty over the next few months, I am already looking forward to being back in school to reconnect with and meet more young people through playing table tennis… whenever that may be!