ENJOY TENNIS is the Tennis Ireland programme for players with a disability to learn and enjoy playing tennis in clubs around Ireland.
Enjoy Tennis is a project developed by Tennis Ireland in conjunction with service providers, including Stewarts Care, Carmona Services, St Michael’s House, Cheeverstown, Festine Lente, Sunbeam and Lakers.
The goal was to create access to tennis for 400 people with an intellectual disability 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 involved generally with their clubs.
The Story so far-
At the beginning of 2015 the Enjoy Tennis Programme was initiated by Liam O’Donohoe Leinster Tennis. The programme has proven to be very successful for the players, service organisations, coaches and clubs involved and is now being rolled out nationwide.
The Programme currently has 800 players across Ireland from five different strands of the programme:
Players with an Intellectual disability
Players with autism
Players with ABI ( acquired brain injury and spinal injuries)
Blind /Vision Impaired players
Enjoy Tennis in January 2018
Number of players: 800
Number of tennis clubs involved: 65
Winner of the National Governing Body Award for the Enjoy Tennis Programme at the CARA National Inclusion Awards in late 2017
Enjoy Tennis in 2016
Number of players: 600
Number of tennis clubs involved: 50
Coaches Trained: 75
While started originally for players with an Intellectual disability, in 2016 Enjoy Tennis extended to:
(i) Players on the autistic spectrum (with St Michael’s House)
(ii) Players who are Blind or have significant vision impairment (in conjunction with Vision Sports Ireland).
(iii) At the National Rehabilitation Hospital, and in conjunction with the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA), we successfully piloted tennis as part of the Hospital’s rehabilitation programme for patients with Acquired Brain Injury and Spinal Injuries.
(iv) Successfully piloted using a tennis camp as a means of Respite Care at DCU.
The Enjoy Tennis programme and its players, coaches and volunteers were recognised when Tennis Ireland were runners up in the Cara (Sports Ireland) National Governing Body 2016 Inclusion awards
Tennis Ireland has incorporated disability tennis into the Level 1 coach education curriculum.
To support the existing clubs and groups and develop the programme further we have recruited five part time regional Enjoy Tennis Development Officers (contact details below).
Our thanks to Sport Ireland for significant funding this year for the implementation of the Blind/Vision Impaired Tennis and ABI/Wheelchair Tennis.(€40k) from the NGB Dormant Accounts competitive fund.
Enjoy Tennis in 2017
(i) In conjunction with Cara and the Local Sports Partnerships provide free disability awareness training for 200 volunteers and coaches.
(ii) Help build the tennis coaching skills amongst the volunteers
(iii) Progress the opportunities for players to join their tennis clubs
(iv) Financially support the cost of new groups in the clubs.
Enjoy Tennis Development Officers:
Joanne O’Halloran (Dublin/Leinster) firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Farrell (South East Leinster) email@example.com
Mike Lehane (Munster) firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesley O’Halloran (North Dublin/ Leinster) email@example.com
Olwyn O’Toole (Connacht) firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/enjoytennisireland/ will give you further information on the programme and allow you to see/hear players talk of their experiences.