Reflections on the PING! table tennis initiative: Lessons and new directions for sports development?

Chris Mackintosh*, Graham Cookson, Gerald Griggs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to establish the impact and effectiveness of the national PING! project implemented by a national governing body of sport (NGB) and key public sector partners in England. It establishes lessons learnt and areas to improve future programme development in this area of public sports management. In addition it is also evidencing a new approach to engaging with physical activity and sports development in local communities. Design/methodology/approach: The research study is based on a user survey with 375 respondents and two qualitative ethnographic case studies in two of the eight cities that were involved in the programme. These case studies encompassed 30 individual or group interviews, informal observations and site visits across the two cities. Findings: The research project has identified some of the key factors that lie behind the positive outcomes of the scheme, including a strong sense of participant community, diverse participant profiles, a hidden workplace impact and building an entry point for non-engaged sports participants to sport and physical activity. In addition, lessons have been learnt in terms of future programme management, design and development in this field of informal and recreational sports project. These include strengthening opportunities for sustainable continued participation, sharing information with other NGBs that are beginning to work in this style of delivery and building alternative pathways to the traditional club as an outlet' for novice participants. Research limitations/implications: The study is based in England and is limited to a one year research project. The qualitative case studies were also only conducted in two of the main partner cities. Originality/value: Very few empirical studies have examined this growing trend towards informal table tennis programmes and facilities. Likewise the paper also offers a novel evaluation approach for NGBs to gain richer more insightful depth of research lessons. It is also part of the growing literature that is questioning the foundations of "traditional sports development" practice and its associated sphere of public sector activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • England
  • Ethnography
  • National governing bodies
  • Public sector
  • Sports development
  • Table tennis


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