This case study with Table Tennis Australia forms part of a series highlighting why grassroots sports funding is essential to build and develop communities that encourage participants to increase their physical activity levels.

In 2018 the Federal Government committed over $150 million to drive national sports participation and physical activity initiatives to get Australian’s moving. 

Table Tennis Australia (TTA) received more than $350,000 in funding from Sport Australia through the Move It AUS Participation Grant Program which has in part been used for their Spinneroos program. 

Beginning a pilot program in early 2020 at four providers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, the Spinneroos Program is aimed at 5-to-12-year-olds to help address an important gap in TTA’s participation pathway.

Despite COVID-19 and the impact on the ability to participate in community sports, Spinneroos through the Sporting Schools program has seen 30,000 primary schools students participate over the last 18 months with over 30 clubs delivering 75 Spinneroos programs nationally. 

The program is designed so that players of different ages, and different capabilities can enjoy table tennis in a safe and fun environment.

“Government funding is so important to these participation programs. It gives you [parents] the confidence. It takes away a lot of risks,” Table Tennis ACT President Heather Tomlinson explained. “With Spinneroos parents loved the idea that they had a kit with a shirt and a bat and some balls.

“All of this costs money. But it is such a great welcomer to the parents and they feel like this is very professional. They start to get engaged. You start investing in them and they start investing in you.”

The program has also seen participants re-participating in multiple eight-week terms while some have also gone on to join junior programs.

There was also demand for a girls-only program. 

“I think the Girls Spinneroos was just an opportunity to give the girls time to get to know each other and form some friendships at that age. If they make a friend that’s how you’ll get them back next term,” said Tomlinson. 

“The Girls Spinneroos enabled that friendship to develop.”

The funding TTA received was critical for the organisation to create an entry-level program that was needed at a club level and has seen success in benefitting a large number of members of the community. This case study again demonstrates the need to continue investing in community sports.