It only takes a few to turn the tide

What had been casually initiated with minimal resources as a way to stay in shape after a hectic day at the office, the green table tennis center has slowly become, in less than a decade, one of the best equipped table tennis practice in the country. without any peripheral aid.

It was in 2013 when the seed had germinated. Pia Afreena Huq, owner of Green Table Tennis (GTT), recalled how two players – one of whom happens to be her husband – and a single game board put things into orbit for a setup, which has become so big than a two-tier facility with up to six tables.

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Pia describes her establishment as “a social entity,” a place where people of all ages could come to hone their skills or simply play the game for purely physical and recreational purposes.

However, GTT’s journey has not been smooth at all, as is the case with most unorthodox projects.

“Starting with just two, the number of people gradually increased,” Pia recalls. “All expenses were borne by me and my husband. But sustaining our efforts has been very difficult.”

Naturally, ping pong fans of all ages were drawn to the rare surroundings, and so the expansion of the facility was in demand. In 2017, a second game board was introduced. Pia reviewed how she and her husband then found the pivotal solution.

“So we came up with the concept of ‘pay and play’ for the first time in the TT [Table Tennis] arena. We started charging nominal fees and segmented them. You had the option of requesting a subscription and paying monthly, or someone could just pay and play on arrival,” she explained.

However, this new initiative has encountered resistance. Pia further informed that people were not willing to pay money initially but it needed to be done for the establishment to run optimally. Other necessities such as a snack bar have also materialized.

At GTT, children can socialize while developing their similar interests, service providers congregate here after office hours, and the elderly, now enjoying a retired life, also come here to play and stay healthy. health.

“Green table tennis is one of my favorite places. It feels more like home,” said Aparesh Chandra Saha, a 64-year-old retired teacher from Viqarunnisa School and College.

Aparesh added, “I used to play this game when I was younger, but I couldn’t continue when I started working. Now I started playing again after I retired. people here are very hospitable and friendly.

“As long as I’m alive and well, I can’t wait to play this game with all my heart.”

Mr. Anand, an Indian who came to Bangladesh for professional reasons, also registered with GTT to maintain his physical and mental health.

“Since I came to Bangladesh, I have been looking for a place where I can have fun while improving my physical fitness,” he said.

“Green Table Tennis is a very well-appointed table tennis arena. I have found a lot of professional players and freelancers who come here and play this game. Also, I try to participate in the tournaments.”

The center was also successful in attracting national table tennis players who, in addition to refining their game, could train young players from zero to advanced level. Apparently, apart from the federative structure, there is no other entity in the country that is comparable to GTT, according to some national actors.

National table tennis player Javed Ahmed said, “I have never seen such a facility anywhere else in Dhaka. You can find all kinds of equipment and equipment and it helps everyone.

“Kids who come here to learn, I try to pass on the knowledge I learned from my federation coaches. And seeing someone win a tournament at school after training from here becomes my biggest achievement.”

And the fact that several corporate and amateur tournaments are held there regularly helps the community to grow further.

“Company groups rent our place to organize their TT tournaments because it takes quite a big space and special logistics to organize such tournaments. ‘they seek to serve society out of passion. and effort.

“Our goal is not to create a commercial table tennis organization, but to become a leading social entity where anyone who loves table tennis can come here and have a good time. I think that’s our primary responsibility to society.”

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