Local Tennis a success in West Yorkshire

The Lawn Tennis Association together with Tennis Foundation last month launched a number of new opportunities to play and receive free tennis coaching for everyone in Leeds and Dewsbury areas as part of their on-going community programmes and all play initiatives.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is the national governing body of tennis in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, while the Tennis Foundation is Great Britain’s leading tennis charity and whose vision is that the sport is inclusive and accessible to every kind of community whatever their ability and knowledge of Tennis.

Members from all different communities attended the events which were held at Cross Flatts Park, Leeds, Crow Nest Park, St John Fisher High School Dewsbury and John Charles Centre for Sport in south Leeds.  100’s of families came along to the free events manned by qualified tennis coaches and Local trained Activators funded by the tennis foundation. 

Starr Zaman Health worker from Dewsbury who set up the events told us that the involvement from the Tennis foundation had been integral at all levels. The aim from these programs was to start some sort of tennis activity and make it accessible for all the communities whatever your ability and knowledge of the game. We (Tennis foundation) have trained up close to 40 Activators whom are integral to the success of this project and the idea has always been to get some role models from the community to lead a self-sustaining program.

These sessions are breaking down perceived barriers and by doing so tackling health inequalities indirectly. The response from both communities and attendees has been very positive and the numbers attending the sessions are much higher than we expected. The tennis foundation will be putting on various courses in the near future across the region so please email health.matters@rccl.org to register your interest in becoming a coach. 

Paul Bennett, LTA  Tennis Operations Manager for the North added,  Tennis activators are locally identified people who express an interest to become involved in our sport, then attend a training course at a local community venue and that becomes the start of a journey to volunteering and leading sessions which can then lead to further qualifications.

Taking tennis into the heart of local communities is not only a new way of working but a new way of thinking for all the officers and professionals involved in tennis to give the ownership back to local community / voluntary  groups and key stakeholders in the community. Paul Bennett added, “Nationally the tennis foundation have made a firm commitment in getting communities that are traditionally hard to reach reachable. I feel excited at the progress of this pilot and we are already in discussion to role a similar scheme across other areas with high BME communities”.

The LTA and TF will be holding more of these free events in the coming months and throughout the year. For info please visit
http://tennis-in-leeds.co.uk and http://www.lta.org.uk