One Game, One Love: Tennis project is huge success for disabled youngsters

SLSL Tennis

Coach James Maloney (holding the racket) with some of the young people involved in the programme © Paul Sanders

Disabled youngsters from across South London have been enjoying a ‘get into tennis’ programme with help from a £750 grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation.

The project, which is being run by the South London Special League who are based in Greenwich, has provided a gateway into the sport for over 50 disabled young people. For ten years the organisation has offered opportunities for young people with disabilities to play sport, namely football and cricket before introducing the tennis programme this summer.

SLSL Project Manager Sharon Brokenshire said, “There is little provision in our community to offer opportunities to play tennis to disabled and disadvantages young people. We are determined to mirror the success of our football project that has empowered thousands of young people.

At SLSL we celebrate success be it a high level of performance or young people achieving beyond expectations. We also celebrate positive attitude that may be reflected in winning, or through fair play and respect.”

The tennis project is aimed at young people aged over 14 who, after leaving school at 16 or 18, will be off the radar of opportunities that are available for young disabled players. Players from Charlton Park Academy, Shooters Hill Post 16 College and those already involved in the SLSL football league have been attending training sessions at Hornfair Park Tennis Courts, which have been provided by Greenwich Leisure Limited. From the beginning of June a competitive element will be added to the project, with a handful of players selected to perform in the London Youth Games over June and July. The One Game, One Love project will culminate with a large celebration event including competitions and participatory prizes in early July.

However, one of the key elements of the programme is to provide a legacy for young people to continue playing tennis in the future.

Ms Brokenshire said, “When the project finishes, we will find local exit routes for young people to continue playing at an appropriate levels of ability. This will be achieved with the support of volunteers who will ‘buddy up’ with young people and locate community clubs that have the provision for disabled people to play tennis. Competitive sport is not the private pastime for people who are not disabled; it is a joy we can all experience.”

Jane Evans, South London Grants Officer for the Jack Petchey Foundation, “We have been supporting the SLSL for over 6 years and are always impressed by their ideas for projects, and the opportunities they offer to young disabled people across London.”

Since 2007 the Jack Petchey Foundation has invested over £50,000 supporting the SLSL. A patron of the South London Special League is MP Nick Raynsford who won a Jack Petchey Leadership Award last year.

To find out more about South London Special League visit the project’s website at www.sl-sl.co.uk

The Jack Petchey Foundation was established in 1999 to recognise the positive contributions young people make to society and to support them in achieving their potential. It has invested over £85 million in a wide-range youth initiatives across London and Essex to achieve this aim. Click here to find out more.

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