Ackworth School’s new head table tennis coach, Eli Baraty has found himself flying – and living – all over the globe in pursuit of greatness. The renowned table tennis coach has a CV packed with coaching and playing successes and is now looking to drive Ackworth School into becoming an internationally recognisable table tennis powerhouse.
Ackworth School is pleased to announce its new Table Tennis Academy Coach, Eli Baraty, who joins the school in September.
An accomplished table tennis player, Eli has competed at the highest levels in the German league and represented England in Sweden and Switzerland.
The experience of the world stage has led Eli to work closely with five international set-ups, helping coach their best players. Simply put, this is why Eli has a preceding reputation as a high-performance coach; twenty of the players that have come through his academy or that he has coached at various schools, have gone on to be recognised international talents.
Schools coaching is where Eli really made his mark. In an academy just outside of London, Eli built up a then non-existent table tennis programme into a significant force to be reckoned with. Under his expert tutelage, his team served up no less than eight National Schools Championships and finished sixth in the World School Games – an unsurpassed British record.
Eli is quick to assert that he doesn’t want win-at-all-costs players; he champions a much more familial atmosphere:
“I’ve always built a family feel. So, it’s not always about, ‘OK, we’re machines, we’re going to go out there and beat everyone and walk around like we don’t care about anyone’.
“We care about one another; we have great camaraderie and we build that lovely family feel.”
A breath of fresh air blows through Baraty’s academies; his training is far removed from the more traditional one size fits all approach. It’s bespoke, holistic. Eli is much of the mind that a player can be much more than simply the sum of their parts. A 6’7” 250lb heavyweight boxer wouldn’t be trained in the same manner as a lightweight, so why does this thinking not extend to all forms of coaching? Eli thinks it should.
“I’m very holistic, I try to take into account each player’s specific needs.
“For example, I coach somebody who’s No. 5 in England at the moment. He’s nearly 7’! So, I have to find solutions for him to compete and win at the highest levels.
“I’ve got players who are fast, heavy, tiny, whatever. I’m always looking for what suits the individual player’s needs.
“Some trainers can only cater for a certain type of player, someone who’ll listen to them. Someone who’s young, small and fast.”
Unapologetically ambitious, Eli envisions success at Ackworth School, not only for the Table Tennis Academy, but for the pupils themselves – using the sport as a foundation for personal betterment.
“It’s about life skills, it’s about teaching people to come together as a team and to be the best you can be inside the sport and out.
“It’s like, look how successful you are in table tennis, you can be that successful in life as long as you put that focus in”
As the new Table Tennis Academy coach, Eli believes the foundations are set for something great at Ackworth. He sees the School becoming a table tennis destination, a hub, an internationally recognisable name.
“I want it to be a place where players from across Europe start to come, where national teams come to train. I want the School to be seen as the place to come if you want to be an elite performer
“If you have that dream of being a top player within table tennis, then this is your opportunity.”
Lofty goals indeed, though coming from the demonstrable successes of his past, certainly not unachievable.
How it all started
It’s 1996. The playgrounds were awash with Pokémon cards. Europe’s eyes are on England as the likes of Gascoigne, Shearer and McManaman plied their trade on home soil in the first major international football tournament since the glory days of ‘66. Football had come home.
On one auspicious night though, a 14-year-old Eli Baraty was not at home, but was staying at a friend’s house. Earlier that day, he and his friend had rented the film Forrest Gump; unbeknownst to Eli that this film would spark a career in table tennis, they settled in.
Then it happened.
That table tennis scene. The one where he’s playing against himself with half the table up. Eli watched on in amazement:
“I watched it and I just fell in love with that table tennis scene.
“The amazing thing was my friend had a table as well, so as soon as I saw the movie I thought ‘Oh my God I’ve got to play’. I just remember playing against the table the whole night while he went to bed.”
Eli may not have been the most considerate house-guest, but he was a great table tennis player. Four short years later, Eli had moved to France, playing professionally.
Then the proud owner of a Vespa, Eli drove himself from London to France – quite the considerable achievement when you consider the scooter struggled to do much more than 30mph! It was in France that, following a frank discussion with his coach, Eli had somewhat of an existential crisis.
“My coach basically said, ‘Look, you’re never going to be world champion’ and he was right, it was true. It hit me hard and I thought, ‘If I can’t be world champion, I don’t want to play at all’.”
On his return to England, Eli was offered a chance to ‘give back to the sport’. At just 18-years-old, Eli had taken his few tentative first steps down the road of table tennis coaching.
This is not to say that Eli stopped playing, however. In 2015 he battled through to the final 32 of the World Championships, losing out to eventual tournament winner, the England No.3 and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Andrew Baggaly.
Find out more about applying to join Ackworth School’s Table Tennis Academy here or by calling our Admissions team on 01977 233 620.