Olympic hopeful and Arsenal defender team up for table tennis

OLYMPIC hopeful and England international table tennis star Darius Knight and ex-Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn shared a few ball skill tips with Islington youngsters at the Business Design Centre, in Upper Street, Islington.

The Fred Perry Urban Cup finals has enabled 100,000 youngsters from across the UK to try table tennis for the first time this year, through a partnership between all 20 Premier League football clubs.

The four young table tennis stars representing Arsenal were Brandon Murray, 14, Jay Ghazi, 11, Duresa Sllamniku, 12, and Ena Hyka, 13, who were boosted by a pre-tournament visit to Emirates Stadium with Mr Knight and Mr Winterburn.

The legendary Arsenal left-back said: “I’ve played table tennis throughout my childhood and still play now against my two boys.

“I think it’s a great way for kids to socialise with mates away from video games, improve hand-eye coordination and get them active and competitive, so I was happy to support the idea of the Fred Perry Urban Cup. Getting 100,000 kids from urban areas playing the sport is an amazing start.

“I’m also really pleased to see the Premier League lending their influence to other sports - football’s our national game and the Premier League reaches every household in the country, so seeing them give kids the chance to try other games like table tennis and maybe produce the country’s next Olympic hero is really heartening to see.”

Arsenal were also represented at the competition by 11 young people from the Gunners Table Tennis Club, each of whom recently earned their Young Officials Award at an event held at St Aloysius’ College in Hornsey Lane, Archway.