Charlotte’s dad, Richard, from South Stafforshire, got in touch with us to share the fantastic news. “In June 2010, we had a really great short break at Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest,” he says. “We played lots of different sports with our children. Squash, badminton and table tennis. Our daughter Charlotte was 8-years-old and seemed to enjoy her very first experiences of table tennis. So much so, the kids ended up playing back at the lodge on the dining table (sorry!)”
“Maybe if I hadn’t had that initial chance a Center Parcs, I would not have been so interested or confident to join my local table tennis club.” – Charlotte Bardsley
But it wasn’t until two years later that Charlotte’s skill really came into play. “As we didn’t have a table at home, Charlotte didn’t get chance to play again until January 2013, when she joined the Woodfield Table Tennis Club,” says Richard.
And it seems she’s never looked back, as in June this year – almost four years after her interest was piqued at Center Parcs – Charlotte won the England National under 12 competition. She will now go on to represent the country at the European Championships in France later this month.
As the sporting starlet prepares for her debut on the European stage – which involves training 15 hours a week – she tells us how without the opportunity presented by Center Parcs, she may not be where she is today. “Table tennis is easy to understand: you just have to keep the ball on the table as long as you can. Something must have clicked about the sport, as each time I would see a table during our break I would want to have a game with my brother.
“Having that first opportunity to have a taste of a sport is really important. This gave me the confidence that I could do it. So when a few years later, a teacher asked if I wanted to play at school, I immediately said yes as I knew what the game was about and how much fun you could have,” she says.
“Maybe if I hadn’t had that initial chance a Center Parcs, I would not have been so interested or confident to play at school and then join my local table tennis club.”
A short break at Center Parcs is a great way for families to try something new. And Charlotte is certainly an advocate: “What I liked about our break was that we could very easily try lots of different sports. Because you are with your family and everything you need is there, it encourages you to do something together. I would recommend it as an easy and fun way to try something new.”
We wish Charlotte the best of luck at the European Championships later this month.