We caught up with Mia O’Rahilly Egan, a Table Tennis Ireland player and coach who has moved over to Italy and has begun a new table tennis journey with Clemintina in Jesi. Mia is also taking part in our WIS Racquet Sport Coaches Leadership Programme, putting her newly learnt skills and development into action over in Italy. Keep reading below to see how Mia has been getting on in her new coaching and playing journey in Italy.
If you told me that I would be coaching full-time and playing in the Serie B Femminile League here in Italy this time last year, I would definitely not have believed you! A coach of mine called Marco Berzano who trained with me in Ireland when I first started playing Table Tennis about 10 years ago got in touch with me last year about playing league for his club Clementina in Jesi, in the Serie B Femminile and also coaching full-time in Ancona, Italy.
I honestly wanted to start straight away and I was really excited to begin playing competitively. When I first arrived I immediately felt welcomed – especially by the coaches Sonia and Sergei in Jesi, the players and everyone I’d be working with here in Ancona. My weekly schedule consists of coaching kids in Jesi on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday alongside Sergei and Sonia (both of whom I learn a lot from every week) as well as fitting in a training schedule during the week which mostly consists of practicing with Sonia. Then on a Tuesday and Thursday, I am in Ancona coaching the kids with Sonia who has become a close friend of mine the past couple of months and someone I am very grateful to for helping me settle into a completely different environment to back home. After the kids session finishes ( It flies by) – I coach the adults alongside another coach, Eduardo, who has taught me a lot and a guy that I can turn to for advice when needs be.
My weekends are usually free. If not, they consist of myself playing in the league or coaching kids from Jesi in tournaments around the region of Marche.
There are more positives than challenges of course but the most challenging is not being able to speak Italian fluently. However I have also discovered that you don’t necessarily need to be fluent in the language to communicate with the kids. This is what makes my job easier and the best part of being able to communicate with them with your hands or by making eye-contact demonstrates that they know that you’re dedicated. As a result a trust is formed between the coach and player.
Lastly I want to say how rewarding it is as a coach to see the kids enjoy the sport because it reminds me of why I started to play table tennis and why I continued to play. I hope that the girls reading this might think of picking up a bat and join a club nearby or those who are thinking about becoming coaches in the near future have learnt something new about my short-time experience as a coach.