TO SOME it is known as whiff-whaff, for others it is an Olympic Sport – but now everyone can take part in a game of table tennis across Oxford.

Oxford City Council has installed 18 table tennis tables in public areas across the city, including Bonn Square, Oxford Railway Station and Oxford Castle.

The project, called Ping! Oxford, aims to get more people involved in the sport a year on from the 2012 London Olympics.

On Saturday, it was launched at Bury Knowle Park, where Olympic diver Peter Waterfield joined about 500 people to play the game across nine tables.

Mr Waterfield, who won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, said: “This is what it is all about, introducing people to sport.

“In 10 or 15 years they could be the next Olympic medalist and how cool would it be to get them into that sport, so having an event like this is amazing.”

Rachel Walding, 43, from Headington Quarry, attended with her nieces Anna and Emilia Podgorski, aged 13 and 10, and friends Kate and Bill Upcott, 59 and 65.

She said: “It is a brilliant idea. Look at the amount of people here, all ages, all walks to life, all joining in together and being friendly.

“It is just a really good idea to get people out in the fresh air, doing exercise, improving community spirit and building on the Olympic Legacy.”

Anna said: “It’s really important because it gives people more interest in sports.

“At school people play football, but don’t always play table tennis, so giving people the opportunity to play is a good idea.”

Judy Cossins, 47, from Headington, visited with her partner Nick Smith, 46, and their children Joe, 12, and Annabel, 15. She said: “It gets everyone out together playing table tennis and it is very communal and friendly.

“Anything that encourages people to take part in a sport is obviously going to help.”

Joe said: “It is great to be able to enjoy ping pong near our house. It gets people involved in it and gets people outside and doing sports.”

Oxford was one of 10 cities, including London, Liverpool and Birmingham, to receive money – £15,000 – from Sport England to install the table tennis tables. The tables, along with bats and balls, will be installed for a month initially but Oxford City Council hopes to keep them.

The council’s Go Active coordinator Vicki Galvin said: “In places like France you walk into parks and sport, such as bowls or table tennis, is available to everyone.

“We would like people to walk around this city and stumble across a table tennis table and challenge a passer-by to a game.”

City council executive board member for parks and sports Mark Lygo said: “Table tennis is inter-generational, it is something that brings the community together and it is inclusive for all, but most importantly it is fun and it is interactive.”

Mr Lygo has challenged Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth to a Labour vs Conservative match up in Oxford Castle at 3.30pm on August 15.

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Where to find them:

Bonn Square, Bury Knowle Park, Cutteslowe Park, Blackbird Leys Park, Manzil Way Gardens, Oxford Castle, Oxford Train Station, Templars Square Shopping Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital