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  • 25 YEARS OF BRINGING NEW VOICES TO THE GAME

  • TENNIS FOUNDATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY 1

    For 25 years its been our mission to bring the benefits of our wonderful sport to as many people as possible, regardless of background or ability. Perhaps its only now that we are really beginning to realise just how much tennis has the power to change lives for the better, and help individuals fulfil their potential, not just as players of course, but as people. Even more excitingly, perhaps our maturity as an organisation means were better placed than ever to know how to help deliver that change.

    It has always involved hard work, as those of you who have worked for us will know. Often it has called for innovation and creativity. At other times its patience and sheer will that make the difference. But in every case, without fail, when progress is made, its made because weve listened.

    Listened to the needs of the people who feel that tennis is not for them. To those who feel excluded or unwanted. Listened to those who feel unable to participate or progress in a sport that would love nothing more than for them to take part and progress. Listening to those reasons, understanding them, and answering them with actions that lead to change are at the heart of what our work is about.

    Listening is fundamental for another reason. If this last quarter of a century has taught us anything, its that nothing is achieved in isolation. Courts are no good without players. Players need coaches. Coaches need training. People (and resources) everywhere need bringing together: schools, clubs, parks, local authorities, charities, organisations and individuals. The closer the links and the more open the channels of communication and co-operation, the stronger the entire tennis community.

    This book is to commemorate and thank all of those who have contributed to our work in building that community. There can be no better way to celebrate than to show that in listening and responding to voices that say Its not for me its possible to create new and more powerful voices in people who have discovered that, yes, in fact tennis is for them. Their stories of achievement, discovery, growth, empowerment, progress and joy are powerful proof that our work has been and continues to be worthwhile.

    25 years listening and responding to voices that say its not for me

  • TENNIS FOUNDATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY 1

    For 25 years its been our mission to bring the benefits of our wonderful sport to as many people as possible, regardless of background or ability. Perhaps its only now that we are really beginning to realise just how much tennis has the power to change lives for the better, and help individuals fulfil their potential, not just as players of course, but as people. Even more excitingly, perhaps our maturity as an organisation means were better placed than ever to know how to help deliver that change.

    It has always involved hard work, as those of you who have worked for us will know. Often it has called for innovation and creativity. At other times its patience and sheer will that make the difference. But in every case, without fail, when progress is made, its made because weve listened.

    Listened to the needs of the people who feel that tennis is not for them. To those who feel excluded or unwanted. Listened to those who feel unable to participate or progress in a sport that would love nothing more than for them to take part and progress. Listening to those reasons, understanding them, and answering them with actions that lead to change are at the heart of what our work is about.

    Listening is fundamental for another reason. If this last quarter of a century has taught us anything, its that nothing is achieved in isolation. Courts are no good without players. Players need coaches. Coaches need training. People (and resources) everywhere need bringing together: schools, clubs, parks, local authorities, charities, organisations and individuals. The closer the links and the more open the channels of communication and co-operation, the stronger the entire tennis community.

    This book is to commemorate and thank all of those who have contributed to our work in building that community. There can be no better way to celebrate than to show that in listening and responding to voices that say Its not for me its possible to create new and more powerful voices in people who have discovered that, yes, in fact tennis is for them. Their stories of achievement, discovery, growth, empowerment, progress and joy are powerful proof that our work has been and continues to be worthwhile.

    25 years listening and responding to voices that say its not for me

  • Its too difficult

  • TENNIS FOUNDATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY 5

    Tennis, difficult? It is. And thats the most valuable thing about it. Too difficult? Absolutely not, its possible for anyone. Manage expectations, set reasonable goals, and the fact that it takes work is what makes it so thoroughly rewarding. One of our major challenges these past 25 years has been not just to convince people that tennis isnt as difficult as it looks, but to innovate and adapt it so that it really is achievable for everyone.

    And that means everyone. Whether youre two or ninety-two, whether youre visually impaired or hearing impaired or paraplegic or autistic, there should be a way for you to enjoy tennis. And thanks to our work and others, there is. We believe that if you can match the game to peoples needs and capabilities, there is no end to the joy and personal benefits that it can bring. Our aim is for the full inclusion of disabled people across all areas of tennis: community, coaching, performance. We will be developing and funding a series of disability hubs around the country that will provide equipment, support, training and more everything required to bring the game to these groups. You dont have to be hitting blistering passes on Centre Court. For some, just to feel fresh air in their lungs and a ball bounce on the strings is a source of immeasurable pleasure and achievement.

    4 TENNIS FOUNDATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY

    45,800 dISABlEd PEOPlE PlAY TENNIS ONCE A MONTH 1

    91,000 OVER 55s PlAY TENNISONCE A WEEk 2

  • TENNIS FOUNDATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY6 7

    Innovating and adapting make the game fit the needIts common sense that a child is going to struggle to manage full-sized rackets, fast bouncing balls and a big court. First short tennis with its sponge balls, and then mini tennis with its lower pressure balls graded red, orange and green have addressed this: lower nets, less far to run, the chance to maximise court space by playing across the court. Kids love it and learn faster with it. But mini tennis means that other groups have been able to benefit too. Wheelchair beginners, children with learning disabilities, adult learners and the elderly for example.

    A little creativity and common sense today makes a big difference to lives tomorrow. Weve developed purpose-built kits that have, thanks to the LTAs sponsorship with AEGON, gone into 500 special schools and opened the game out to people with autism, Downs syndrome and many other types of learning and behavioural difficulty. Thanks to an innovation from Japan, tennis can now be played by visually impaired and even completely blind people, using an audible ball with bearings at its core. Players are allowed two or three bounces depending on their level of visual impairment. Its popularity is extraordinary. Whilst the differences are less radical, there are alterations, mostly in communication, to adapt the game for hearing impaired players, too. Much of our work in the area of disabilities is carried out in close partnership with the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust. In 2012 the Trust donated 60 tennis wheelchairs, for free, to 13 tennis venues across Great Britain, to help those inspired by tennis at the Paralympic Games to give the sport a go in their local area.

    Many people think tennis is too difficult. But with the right care and attention to the needs of each individual its an incredible success. These transition balls green in particular are great give them access to the sport. At first it was chaos: the boys loved the feeling of hitting the balls as high as possible into the surrounding gardens. It was more like cricket than tennis. But we could see from the start how it could be made to work. They were loving it. Since then every child in the school is taught tennis. It gives them instant feedback. They see themselves improving right before their eyes.

    Cefyn JonesP.E. teacher and qualified tennis coach at Falconer School, Bushey, for children with social, emotional and behavioural special needs. Falconer was awarded British Tennis School of the Year in 2011.

    Ray of hope tennis in spinal unitsSo tennis is all about running is it? Think again. Many of the UKs most successful tennis players have spinal injuries, brittle bones or have lost limbs, and some cannot run at all. They play in a chair. Seeing what can be achieved even with the severest of disabilities in and out of a chair and supporting the progress of disabled players at all levels from beginner to Paralympic champions is nothing less than inspiring.

    For each disabled person coming to tennis its a journey, and being there and providing a credible route for progress at different stages is our aim. The Tennis Foundation takes chairs and rackets to the spinal injury unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (and other spinal injury units around the country) to demonstrate the sport. For many patients coming to terms with their injuries to be able to see tennis being played is a ray of light, and something to aim for and look forward to. In fact the journey for two of our finest wheelchair players, Peter Norfolk and Janet McMorran,