EARLS Hall Primary School’s table tennis team are seeking national success this weekend.

The youngsters are heading to the national finals in Leicestershire in good spirits having just triumphed in the Southern Regional finals in Bristol.

And headteacher Matt Badcock is full of praise for the pupils’ achievements at the Westcliff-based school.

“The school is extremely proud of the children’s achievements, which are the result of real dedication and commitment to the sport, not only by the children but also their coaches Paul Smith and Sid Dorn,” said Badcock.

“Most of the team discovered their talent for table tennis while attending school clubs and have gone onto join local leagues.

“The whole school community is excited for the boys.”

The boys team are now ranked in the top four teams in the country, with the girls team in the top 12.

During the past six years, Earls Hall has invested in the development of table tennis across the school, with children achieving ever-improving results year on year.

And Earls Hall’s full-time sports coach Paul Smith has been delighted by the progress being made.

“We recognise that table tennis is an inclusive sport which can reach many children,” said Smith.

“At Earls Hall, it began as an after-school club and the children played on pasting tables.

“Over the past few years, the school has been fortunate enough to acquire five indoor tables and four outdoor tables to support the growing interest in table tennis across the school.

“This year we organised a school table tennis league, with six schools signing up to join in.

“It is believed that this is the first primary school league in the country.

“We were fortunate enough to receive some funding from Table Tennis England and this money has been used to give equipment back to the schools that have participated within the league.”

However, Smith remains determined to keep on improving.

“We are always looking for ways to grow the sport within the school and the local area,” said Smith.

“We regularly invite in former national players.

“We have also built a great relationship with Table Tennis England and now have a Southend and District table tennis club here every Wednesday from 5.15pm to 7pm. Also, at a recent county individuals tournament, 36 per cent of the players under the age of 13 originated from or are at Earls Hall.”