ENJOY TENNIS is the Tennis Ireland programme for players with a disability to learn and enjoy playing tennis in clubs around Ireland.
It began in 2015 and was developed by Tennis Ireland following research which showed that players with a disability typically had no access to tennis as a sport. It was developed in conjunction with a range of partners including Vision Sports Ireland, IWA Sport and a range of different Service providers, including Stewarts Care, Carmona Services, St Michael’s House, Cheeverstown, Festine Lente, and Lakers.
The programme is strongly supported by Sport Ireland and a range of Local Sports Partnerships including Kildare, Dun Laoghaire and Cork and Sligo.
The initial ambitious goal was to include 400 people in the programme by the end of 2016, and to do so in a way which enabled the players to continue playing in their clubs on a long-term basis and become part of their clubs. Through a collaborative approach with partners, players and clubs, the Enjoy Tennis programme aims to provide an accessible and inclusive sport to people of all abilities in their communities.
The Story so far:
This has proven to be very successful for the players, service organisations, coaches and clubs involved and now involves 1200 players, with a range of abilities playing tennis on a regular basis in 80 clubs nationwide. The Enjoy Tennis programme caters for players:
. With an Intellectual disability
. With Autism spectrum Disorder
· With an Acquired brain injury (ABI)
· Who use a Wheelchair
· Who are Blind /have a Vision Impairment
· Who have Dementia
· To improve their Mental Health
· Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
· Who have Cerebral Palsy
In 2018 Tennis Ireland received the National Governing Body Award for the Enjoy Tennis Programme at the CARA National Inclusion Awards.
In 2018 we hosted the World Blind Tennis Championships at Shankill Tennis Club
Tennis Ireland has incorporated Inclusive Tennis Coaching for all abilities into our Professional Coaching qualifications.
How does the Programme work?:
Enjoy Tennis links local organisations such as Service Providers like St Michael’s House, or NGBs such as Vision Sports Ireland or IWA sport with local Tennis clubs. To engage groups in the programme, Enjoy Tennis provides free tennis coaching for the first 10 weeks and the tennis club provides their courts for free.
Following the ten weeks the clubs continue to provide the courts and the Tennis Development officers work with the club and service providers to plan how to fund the continuation of tennis for the groups going forward. The overall ambition is to ensure that players have a long-term opportunity to enjoy their tennis rather than a once off experience.
If you would like to find out more about starting an Enjoy Tennis group please contact one of our Development Officers listed below.
Ciara Baguley (South Dublin/South Leinster) firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Clifford (Munster) email@example.com
Ann Marie Breen (North Dublin and North Leinster) firstname.lastname@example.org
Olwyn O’Toole (Connacht) email@example.com
Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/enjoytennisireland/ will give you further information on the programme and allow you to see/hear players talk about their experiences.