A Wigan man has launched a worldwide table tennis ball design competition in a bid to introduce more children to the sport.
Steve Rowe is encouraging youngsters across the globe to scribble and scrawl any design that comes to mind on a ball, in the hope that they will be lured into trying them out in a game. The idea struck the 55-year-old after he spotted seven-year-old granddaughter Hollie Bannister drawing on a ball.
Steve, a professional table tennis coach, said: “There are always table tennis balls hanging around my house. Just the other week, Hollie started drawing on them, doing funny faces and little messages.
“I thought it was interesting, so I contacted Butterfly, a table tennis equipment firm. They said it was a great idea, so I set up the competition.”
The initiative will have three age categories - Under 16, Under 11 and Under Sevens, and each winner will receive a table tennis equipment package, including a full-sized table, bats, balls and sportswear, courtesy of Butterfly.
It is hoped that table tennis groups around the world will spread the idea and increase the interest in the sport.
Steve commented: “What most kids will do is design their ball and then want to try it out on a table. We want to get more of them interested.
“It’s already going crazy. We’ve even had some involvement from Uganda! In the Netherlands, schools are already setting up special days for the pupils to come in and design their balls. The Dutch are really into table tennis.”
Steve also runs Aerobic Table Tennis, a worldwide fitness program which combines table tennis movements with music.
The project started in Wigan in 2011, and now Steve jets off around the world to introduce the scheme to new schools.
He also runs Wigan Table Tennis Club, which is always on the hunt for new members at wiganttc.co.uk.
Entries for the Design A Ball competition close on September 30. To enter, send your design to firstname.lastname@example.org.