Participants of the tournament. Photo submitted by the Chinese Culture Connection.
The 5th annual Ping Pong Tournament took place on November 17th in the Malden High Gymnasium, from 8am to 6pm.
The competition was split into four main categories, student teams, adult teams, recreational teams, and open teams. Within these categories it was split into the age divisions for elderly, adult, teen, and kids. In each of these events the top three teams were given medals. In the student competition that the Malden High students competed in they received fourth place, while a team from MATTBC took first.
“Ping-pong playing has been a very popular activity for the Chinese senior citizens in Malden.” says Mei Hung, the Executive Director of Chinese Culture Connection. The concept of having a Ping Pong Tournament began to form eight years ago when a group of Senior Citizens requested that the CCC provide a facility for them to play games of Ping Pong during the off-hours of the Malden Senior Center.
During this time the CCC was housed in the Emerson School Building, and had the use of an auditorium that was suitable for ping-pong playing. The issue was at the time there was no storage space available for the Ping Pong tables. The solution that was brought to light was that the CCC would create a tournament for the members to participate in.
In 2013, the first Ping Pong Tournament occurred at the Malden YMCA. While the CCC was mainly responsible for the creation of the event, it would not have been possible without the help of senior-member Mr. Feng. Mr. Feng lived in France for about 30 years before coming back to Massachusetts after his retirement to be with his daughter. Feng opened a Chinese restaurant just outside of Paris and in his spare time organized Ping Pong Tournaments that received a great amount of positive publicity, with even local officials taking part in the events.
Feng was extremely important to the establishment and the execution of the first Ping Pong tournament and it was partly due to his experience that the event ran smoothly during its first year. In addition to Mr. Feng’s involvement, Mr. Yu, another senior member, was also crucial to the Ping Pong Tournament in the last three years, providing useful guidance when it came to organizing the tournament and setting the game metric.
After the first Ping Pong Tournament in 2013, it was decided that the Tournament be held in the Malden High School Cafeteria. This was due to the fact that it was an open space and there was already a Ping Pong Club at Malden High.
“We wanted to encourage intergenerational interaction. And, we thought this would be a great opportunity for the high school ping-pong club to interact with the senior members while learning some skills from them” stated Hung. As the event began to grow larger and larger, the past three years the event has taken place in the Malden High Gymnasium. During the first Ping Pong Tournament there were only fourteen teams, with 56 players in total and by the fourth year it had doubled to 30 teams and 103 players participating.
This year proved to be the largest turnout yet, with a total of 42 teams and 157 players, whose ages ranged from the youngest at seven years old and the oldest at 76, from Malden and the greater Boston area. Unlike the earlier Tournaments, the only participates of this event are no longer just Chinese/Asian immigrants and students, the event is now multicultural. The teams now include Asian, American, Russian and Indian teams. This year the MHS Ping Pong Club entered five teams, an all time high for the growing club.
The Chinese Culture Connection will also be hosting a celebration of the Lunar New Year for the year of the Pig on January 26, 2019 at the Jenkins Auditorium from 1-6 PM.