The power of sport to unite was in full view today (18 April) as over 150 young people from across the capital took part in an LTA SERVES Tennis Festival.
Great Britain Fed Cup team captain Anne Keothavong and players Katie Swan and Harriet Dart attended the festival and joined in with the on-court activities.
SERVES, which receives funding from Sport England, is the LTA’s sport for development programme that aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged people by giving them the opportunity to play the sport.
It takes tennis into disadvantaged communities, seeing it played by young people in over 200 venues across the country as diverse as youth clubs, community centres, church halls, mosques and temples.
Over 10,000 young people have been engaged in the programme to date and over 600 coaches, youth workers, community and faith group leaders have been trained as tennis activators.
Beyond participation, the innovative SERVES social change programme uses tennis to impact young people’s lives through a series of informal on-court modules that influence them to lead active and healthy lives.
Claire Wheeler, Community Manager for the LTA, said:
“Tennis can be a sport for everyone and the LTA SERVES festivals prove just that. The programme has really taken off since its inception.
“It not only shows how much groups of young people are now enjoying tennis through SERVES, but also helped to showcase how sport can be a mechanism for social cohesion and bring groups of young people who may otherwise never have crossed paths together.”
The LTA also become the first NGB to sign the new Sporting Equals Charter, which aims to promote greater involvement in sport and physical activity among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
Oliver Scadgell (LTA’s Participation Director) [right] and Arun Kang (Sporting Equals’ Chief Executive) [left]
The Charter, entitled ‘Race Equality in Sport and Physical Activity: A Manifesto for Change’, is comprised of three principles; Capture, Commit and Celebrate.
The Charter aligns with Sport England’s ‘Towards an Active Nation’ strategy, which calls for the need to embrace diversity and change to get the nation active.
Sports organisations have been challenged by Sport England to tackle under representation at all levels to reflect the society we live in.
On signing the Charter, Oliver Scadgell, LTA Participation Director said:
“The LTA’s new vision is to open up tennis to as many people and communities as possible, and we want tennis to lead the way in promoting ethnic diversity in sport.
“Our SERVES programme has already seen us make significant progress in breaking down barriers and engaging the BAME community in tennis.”