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How Nicko is using his skills to serve others

A Northolt resident is using his sporting prowess as a platform for helping others.

Nicko Anderson, 23, reached the heady heights of a world ranking of 38th in Paralympic table tennis. But as well as being a very talented sportsman, Nicko has also taken the time to make a contribution to his community by offering free table tennis classes for local people.

Nicko playing in a match

‘Astounding opportunities from table tennis’

“I started playing table tennis when I was 11”, Nicko told us. “It’s like playing chess but at 100 miles per hour. I played at a high level for 10 years, including representing Great Britain, but financially it’s very difficult. I was on the development squad for GB, and to reach the senior squad, you have to compete in as many tournaments as possible to push your ranking up – at least seven in the UK and two to three international tournaments a year. You have to self-fund your entry fee and all costs, and at £400-500 per tournament, it’s not cheap.

“I started playing just as a hobby to get some exercise, but the opportunities the sport has given me are astounding – it opened a lot of doors for me. I got to travel all over the country and abroad, I’ve met loads of people and represented my country, and I earned qualifications that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Nicko takes on Councillor Bassam Mahfouz at one of his coaching sessions

Coaching others

Nicko is now passing on the skills he has learnt to others, at the weekly table tennis club he runs in Northolt.

“I took a table tennis coaching course and volunteered with a coaching company to pick up more experience,” said Nicko. “When I saw a poster about community activities in Ealing, I offered to start a table tennis club. The first session was in last summer’s school holidays, and the classes have been very popular.

“I want my club to provide a learning experience. I don’t coach the sport; I coach the person through sport. My club is about challenging people on how they think. I let them work out for themselves what they’ve done wrong and how they could improve. Table tennis has given me so much and I want other people to be able to access those same benefits. I’ve enjoyed coaching so much that, although I’d still like to go back to playing seriously, I want to become a full-time coach.”

One of the coaching sessions in Northolt

Above and beyond

Nicko was a winner at Ealing Council’s ROAR Awards in October 2018, which recognised residents who have gone above and beyond with volunteering in their community. Nicko used his prize money to buy more table tennis equipment for his classes, which are growing in size all the time.

“The classes take place every Wednesday between 5-7pm at the Gainsborough Tower Hall and are completely free,” he said. “We’ve got 10 regular players but there’s still room for lots more. The players are largely youngsters at the moment, but we plan to offer classes for adults too, including the elderly.”

Nicko receiving his ROAR Award from Rupa Huq MP

Bringing people together with music

Nicko has now set his sights on doing something similar with his other great love – music.

“I’m also a DJ and music producer,” he said. “As well as owning a sound system which we use for events, I’ve also built a studio in my home. Reggae and dancehall is my favourite, but I’m interested in all sorts of music. I’m keen to speak to people in the Ealing and Northolt area who want to record some music or DJ on my sound system. Music really brings people together and can bring out the best in people, especially those who have had limited opportunities to show what they can do.”

You can find out how to join Nicko’s table tennis classes, or how to get in touch with Nicko about making music, by enquiring at the MY housing hub in Gainsborough Tower in Northolt or by calling 020 8845 7422.

Get involved

If you would like to get more involved in your community, go to the Do Something Good website atwww.dosomethinggood.org.uk

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