Table tennis has taken Ron Davies around the world – as far afield as Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Delhi – and he’s held the most senior of roles at Table Tennis Wales, most notably Finance Director, Director of Competitions/Performance and now Vice President. It’s all the more extraordinary when you consider that Ron was introduced to the game in the most modest of ways – undertaking the most fatherly of duties by taking his daughters to play at their local club.
And his daughters more than repaid him for their free taxi rides to and from training, as Meinir, Delyth, Siwan and Iona all went on to play table tennis for Wales!
Siwan was particularly talented, playing in five World Championships, five European championships and two Commonwealth Games.
It wasn’t in Ron’s nature to sit back and watch, and after parking the car he was soon inside offering to volunteer and setting up the tables and preparing the playing area. That naturally led to him starting to play himself, albeit without the natural skill and flair of his daughters.
“I was the first professional player in the Wrexham League,” says Ron. “My team-mates paid me to stay at home!”
Far from doing that, Ron qualified as an Umpire – progressing through the ranks from County, National and then to International Umpire.
Steve Gibbs, then Table Tennis Wales General Secretary, invited Ron to become TTW Finance Director – which in the mid-1980s saw him join the TTW Committee.
Ron also began to play a greater role in organising tournaments. Together with his wife Marian, they were part of the team that resurrected the Welsh Open – building back up to a status where, in 2000, players from 11 countries took part.
Ron umpired at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Glasgow and Kuala Lumpur.
He also took on the important role of Transport Manager for Team Wales at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, taking responsibility for the safe transport of athletes and equipment, and Team Wales General Manager at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Ron was also an official table tennis technical officer at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic in London, making sure all the bats used was legal.
Having spent 39 years in the merchant navy, the first 26 years with Shell Tankers travelling world wide and then with British Sealink ferries, sailing between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire and then Fishguard to Rosslare, (working week-on week-off on the ferries during the week, while Marian took their daughters to tournaments around the UK), Ron is used to being away from home – so all this travelling with Table Tennis Wales and Team Wales suited him down to the ground.
Now in his mid-70s, his long-haul days are behind him and Ron is happier to co-ordinate Table Tennis Wales duties from his home in Gorslas in Carmarthenshire.
Table Tennis Wales is enormously grateful for the contribution Ron has made, and continues to make, to the game. And Ron in turn cannot recommend table tennis enough, for it’s a game that might take you around the world.
“If you can pick up a bat and put a bit of effort into learning how to play the game well, you can have a really good time playing table tennis,” says Ron.
“You’ll meet some incredible people and it could take you to places you have only dreamed about.”