Tennis: East London school hopes to get LTA funding
PUBLISHED: 13:30 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 15 November 2017
Annabel Croft visited an East London school to attend a tennis programme that is proving to change children’s lives.
Greenhouse Sports tennis programme at St Paul’s Way Trust School in Tower Hamlets runs daily tennis sessions that are leading to improved school performance and wellbeing.
The programme, supported by the Tennis Foundation, is now hoping to benefit from the Lawn Tennis Association’s historic Transforming British Tennis Together initiative, which will see £125 million invested into grassroots tennis.
And after visiting the schoolchildren whose lives have been transformed by the programme, Croft is ecstatic at the prospect of all-year round tennis for a new generation of players.
She said: “This is such an astronomical amount of money, probably the largest amount the sport has ever seen.
“We’ve got two really nice courts but at 4pm it’s going to be getting dark, so getting new floodlights would enable kids like we saw take their tennis sessions for longer throughout the year.
“I was someone who was able to play floodlit tennis every day after school and if I hadn’t been able to access floodlit facilities I would never have been able to improve my tennis the way that I did.
“So, this is a good example of a facility that with a little extra funding would allow communities to play all year round. The key is investment into facilities and Transforming British Tennis Together is reaching out to all clubs, local authorities and schools to try and access some of the money on offer.”
Minhaaj Uddin, a pupil in year 10, has seen his school-life transformed after taking up the programme in year seven and has already represented the school in the National Schools League.
He said: “It’s been great to be part of this group. It’s given me an amazing opportunity and I really appreciate the chances I’ve had from being involved.
“The programme has helped with lots of stuff. I’ve been able to use the teamwork skills and the team exercises from playing tennis in school and classes.”
Since 2012, the Tennis Foundation has jointly funded Greenhouse Sports employed tennis coaches to work in London schools to nurture pupils’ Social, Thinking, Emotional and Physical (STEP) skills to equip young people for life.
This partnership has so far seen over 1,120 pupils take part in their programme and more than 11,200 coaching hours dedicated to young people.
Minhaaj added: “I really enjoy playing matches against other schools. We always want to play as long as we can even when it goes past the time of our lesson. But the good thing is that we can ask our coach, Chris, to turn the lights on.”
The LTA is now calling on communities, clubs and local governments across the country to find out how they can benefit from a slice of this record amount of funding to transform community tennis facilities.
Through Transforming British Tennis Together, the LTA is aiming to work with communities to reduce the barriers to playing tennis by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts across the UK over the next ten years, increasing available playing hours.
The initiative will also see the LTA work with local communities to install features like online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone, computer or tablet.
Alastair Marks, Participation Director at the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “We want to see more children able to play tennis all year-round, not just at schools but at community facilities open to all, and we have identified areas like East London being key to the LTA to grow tennis and invest in facilities in the capital.
“The popularity of tennis in schools and communities and the success of programmes such as those run by the Tennis Foundation and Greenhouse Sports, as well as the real level of engagement amongst prospective partners, creates a huge opportunity to create year-round facilities and get more people playing more often.”
For more information visit lta.org.uk/TBTT.