Sheffield going batty for ping pong on the streets

Summer fun:Table tennis fans battle it out on Fargate.  PICTURES: STUART HASTINGS
Summer fun:Table tennis fans battle it out on Fargate. PICTURES: STUART HASTINGS
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PING pong balls are flying down Fargate in Sheffield as a new fun sports project bounces into the city.

Nearly 40 table tennis tables have sprung up in landmark locations, from Sheffield Railway Station to Meadowhall shopping centre.

Playing is free and the Ping! Sheffield scheme has already proved popular with shoppers, workers and students.

Jane Mccart, aged 18, who was watching competitive matches on Fargate, said: “It is a great idea. I play indoors a lot but outside it is very different because of the wind, it makes a big difference.

“You don’t need to really be incredibly fit to do this, it’s like a taster. But you have to watch where the ball is going!”

Ping! volunteer Gillian Capewell added: “I’ve seen people from all walks of life having a go so far - a couple of builders in hi-vis jackets playing in the Peace Gardens, a young family on Fargate, and two senior gentlemen in Tudor Square.”

Each table has bats and balls provided. Free coaching, competitions and other events are also included in the month-long event.

After July 15 tables will stay in the city and be installed in parks and estates on a permanent basis or donated to organisations.

Ismael Rabanipour, 18, of Abbeydale Road, playing friend Peter Pecha at the Peace Gardens, said: “It’s very good and there is one in the Winter Garden too in case the weather is bad.”

Ping! Sheffield is backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England.

Stuart Rogers, from South Yorkshire Sport, said: “Ping! Sheffield is a fantastic new initiative to boost recreational table tennis.”