IT IS an Olympic sport that requires skill and a steady hand.
Now experts believe table tennis, or ping pong, could be the key to keeping older people healthy and active.
Yesterday pensioners from across Havant enjoyed a film which follows a group of over-60s who are competing in the world ping pong championships.
Richard Wood, community officer for leisure and sport at Havant Borough Council, hoped the film, Ping Pong, would inspire the audience to have a game afterwards – and it worked.
The fun took place at The Spring arts and heritage centre in East Street, Havant, and there were plenty of pings and pongs as people tried their hand at the game.
Mr Wood said: ‘It is such an accessible, easy, game to play.
‘A lot of older people played it when they were younger.
‘There are different variations of the game that you can play, depending on whether you’ve got good or poor mobility. You can play seated or standing and you can play with or without a net.
‘What we’re tying to do is encourage community organisations to take part in Hampshire County Council’s Ping Pong Care Campaign. You can pick up a net and use it anywhere – you don’t have to have a ping pong table.’
The game can help people with mobility issues by improving their balance.
Even learning how to hold the bat steady can really improve people’s confidence.
John Burch, of Lockerley Road, Leigh Park, picked up a bat for the first time in 15 years yesterday.
He said: ‘I certainly do think that people of our age group will benefit from this.
‘I had a great time at The Spring. The film explained that you’re never too old to go out and enjoy yourself.
‘Anybody can sit at home and put their feet up but ping pong gives you the opportunity to go out and do something.’
The objective is to run tournaments ending with a grand final in the autumn.
Go to havant.gov.uk or call (023) 9244 6019 for details.