Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Table Tennis Coach Maria Ingles On The Incredible Work At The Greenhouse Centre

Posted on 6 June 2019 by Matt Davies

London may be among the wealthiest cities in the world, but deprivation and inequality are still distinctly prevalent. Indeed, there are numerous charities focusing on an abundance of issues, and while some gain the recognition they deserve, others can slip through the net.

Welcome to the Greenhouse Centre, an establishment set up by Greenhouse Sport in 2018 designed to help children and their families living in disadvantaged communities.

Their aim is to use sport to engage young people and improve their opportunity for a brighter future. They partner with schools and work in local communities, providing high-quality coaching that would otherwise be entirely inaccessible.

Greenhouse Sport acquired a deconsecrated church in 2014, aided by funding from Sport England lottery, London Marathon Charitable Trust, and the People’s Postcode Lottery. They worked tirelessly for the best part of four years transforming it into what we see today.

Table Tennis coach Maria Ingles began her journey at the Greenhouse Centre in September. She tells of her experience below.

Greenhouse Sport worked for six months between 2016-17 with Loughborough university, researching the benefits of their intensive sports-based approach.

They found 36% of pupils participating in their programmes exercised for over an hour a day, more than double the national average. Additionally, both maths and English scores were higher on average, with school attendance and both mental and physical health also increased.

While the sport is certainly essential to the process at the Greenhouse Centre, education is also majorly important. Away from the scenic hub consisting of music, table tennis tables and basketball hoops, is a homework room, where school children are both provided with encouragement and assistance.

Adding to the already wonderful array of help and guidance provided by members of staff at the Greenhouse Centre, there are also sessions provided to adults in need.

Visually impaired and older members of the community are also welcome to physical activity sessions, while Muslim women are also provided with a place to exercise without the constraints of their religious clothing.

The work both the Greenhouse Centre and Greenhouse Sport in general has done is simply astonishing. It has certainly received widespread recognition, with Prince Harry actually cutting the ribbon on its opening.

However, with the astonishing impact it has had on local communities in London, perhaps it should be a household name.

Featured photograph/ Matt Davies