July 24 2014 Latest news:
Friday, June 6, 2014
Hampstead Heath bosses are hoping to serve up a world first after embracing a radical new spin on the sport of table tennis.
The world’s first specially built outdoor table for triples ping pong – a new twist on the popular game designed for six players – is to be installed in Parliament Hill Fields next month.
Table tennis has seen a huge boom in popularity in recent years, with outdoor tables cropping up across the UK including in the Golders Hill Park section of the Heath.
But the new three-a-side version – which uses a larger circular table – is currently only played in the Australian seaside town of its invention, Wollongon, which lies about 50 miles from Sydney.
That is set to change when the £2,700 table becomes a permanent fixture next to the Parliament Hill tennis courts and bowling green.
Paul Maskell, Hampstead Heath’s leisure and events manager, said: “There are a number of ‘wow’ factors and we think it could really make an interesting asset to the Heath.
“Unlike ordinary table tennis, you can have as many as six players and actually I’ve seen nine people playing at once.
“We think it would be great on Parliament Hill, particularly where we’re going to position it, very near to William Ellis and Parliament Hill schools. We’re hopeful a lot of kids will come to play at lunchtime.”
The plan is expected to be rubber-stamped this week by the City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, ahead of a grand launch on July 20.
In a report going before the Hampstead Heath Committee on Monday, the City states the table’s cost will be “far outweighed by the benefit to the local community, including engaging with our younger, under-represented audiences”.
It is likely to be free to use, although there may be a charge or deposit for bats and balls.
The table will be launched at the Heath’s annual Olympic legacy sporting event, Give It A Go, on July 20.
An indoor version of the table proved popular when it appeared briefly at last year’s Give It A Go event in September, which was the first time triples ping pong had been seen in the UK.
This year’s event, which will be held on Parliament Hill, will feature all manner of games and sporting activities, from climbing walls to assault courses.