It is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a table separated by a small net, using small rackets and dates back more than a century ago. However, it continues to evolve to this day and has been a fixture in a few secondary schools on island most notably the St. Mary’s College and Castries Comprehensive Secondary School.
Table-Tennis has many benefits and Roslyn Lee understands how important these benefits can be to young students, especially girls on island. Playing the game not only improves the hand-eye coordination, it also stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy.
According to Roslyn, a seasoned player in her native Taiwan, the sport is a perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes, and also for older people to refine tactics as playing the game develops mental acuity.
Roslyn, who will be on island for the remainder of the year, is eager to help develop the island’s young table tennis players but informed us that she is also very excited to teach children from as young as five years old the wonderful sport that has brought her so much joy throughout the years. “We’ve been to different schools, held a few tournaments for Special Needs children and I joined in the Olympic Run with the national players”, she told us as we recounted someof what she has done since coming to Saint Lucia.
Roslyn beamed with pride as the student athletes paddled away, with sheer confidence and precision. The thought of possibly representing the island on the grand stage of them all, the Olympics, probably on the minds of a few while others seemed simply happy to keep the ball on the table.
“I would really love to see more of the younger girls come out to play table tennis”, she said, as she assisted one of the newer recruits in the academy with the proper stance when a player is about to serve.
During a busy afternoon training session at the National Table Tennis Centre, we were fortunate to see the children in action as well as national Table Tennis player, fourteen year old, De’Andre Calderon, fresh from his successful exploits at the Scouters Under-21 Open Table Tennis Singles competition in Barbados.
“Deandre is a talented and hardworking player,” she said as she linked him to one of Taiwan’s star teenagers Lin Yun-Ju, “I believe he can get a Taiwanese scholarship if he continues to work hard.” She affirmed that he is sure to broaden his skills and take advantage of more opportunities in Taiwan – the perfect environment she concluded as more and more Saint Lucians are calling it home now.
The comradery at the Centre is evident as soon you walk in and that is a testament to the sport’s mantra of bringing people of any age together. An unfortunate misconception about the sport is that it isn’t challenging enough. Don’t be fooled by the small table; Roslyn ensured us that once you’ve started playing it will demand that you stay light on your feet hence making it a fun and physical way to keep fit.
Her goal is to leave the island with champion table tennis players, both boys and girls. “This Saturday is the National Table Tennis Championship Tournament, the International Table Tennis Federation coaching camp is scheduled for next month and at the end of the year we hope to host a Saint Lucia Taiwan Friendship Tournament,” she informed us.
Roslyn’s personality has caught on well with the players which was evident at the bright smiles that greet her and eagerness to learn from her every time she steps into the room.