Four of the Tennis Foundation’s SERVES sites are in contention for a prestigious national award this weekend as part of the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs).
Nominated for their work to take tennis to a different and new audience within their community, The Dery Foundation (Birmingham), faith centre Khizra Mosque (Manchester), the North London Muslim Community Centre (Hackney), and Shapla Sports Initiative (Bradford) are all contenders for the Tennis Foundation’s Special Recognition Award at the BEDSAs, which are organised by Sporting Equals to celebrate ethnic diversity in sport.
The Special Recognition Award is this year focusing on those who have been involved in the Tennis Foundation’s SERVES Programme, which aims to work with communities to design programmes of tennis activity that accurately reflects localised circumstances and needs.
Mike Bain, Director or Community Tennis at the Tennis Foundation, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting the BEDSAs for the second year running. We have been working in partnership with Sporting Equals to get more people from black and ethnic minorities into sport and to take tennis into communities who would never have before had the opportunity to play and our SERVES programme is a huge part of that.”
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The Dery Foundation
The Dery Foundation are a community led charity based in Birmingham, who work tirelessly to support the Somali community and use sport as a vehicle to improve social integration.
The Tennis Foundation worked with The Dery Foundation to train their volunteers up as Tennis Activators so that they are able to provide tennis to their local community. Prior to the sports sessions taking place they also hold counselling drop ins, in which they speak to the young people confidentially regarding any personal issues.
Adam Abdi from The Dery Foundation said: “We hope this can inspire others to pick up a racket and take up a sport all in the name of improving social cohesion. I personally want to thank Sporting Equals and Tennis Foundation for the opportunities we’ve received.”
Khizra Mosque, on Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester, aims to strengthen relationships within the community by uniting them with sport. Here, they can learn a new skill, increase fitness levels and make new friends.
As part of the SERVES programme, sessions take place in the faith centre and over ten volunteers have been trained to become Tennis Activators.
Atif Zeb, who is involved in the project, commented: “Many young people who attend the mosque after school can miss out on after school sports and other activities. Having an opportunity to play tennis at the mosque allows them to enjoy tennis without missing such activities.”
North London Muslim Community Centre (NLMCC)
When NLMCC joined the SERVES programme in October 2015 it was the first time tennis was delivered by the community centre since it was established 36 years ago.
As part of SERVES, NLMCC were supplied with a selection of tennis equipment, in addition to five volunteers being trained as Tennis Activators to deliver the tennis and ensure the activity was sustainable.
Tennis has been so popular in the centre, it is now delivered weekly, attracting around 25 participants per session.
Mohammed Amejee, Director of the North London Muslim Community Centre said: “The SERVES partnership between the Tennis Foundation, Sporting Equals and the North London Muslim Community Centre has given our young people access to a sport which traditionally was out of their reach.
“Their participation in this programme has helped our young people to develop social knowledge, skills, experience and self-perception that will be invaluable throughout their lives. It helped to open doors that were closed, created chances that didn’t exist and brought unity and togetherness where there was distance.”
Shapla Sports Initiative
Shapla Sports was an initiative created to get the Bangladeshi community of Bradford to come together to play a diverse range of sports
Nine volunteers from Shapla undertook the Tennis Activator Course as part of the SERVES programme, allowing the initiative to deliver sessions within the community on a weekly basis.
Humayun Islam, from Shapla Sports, said: “It has been fantastic brining a sport like tennis to the community. Many in the community have had little or no experience with tennis, and to be provided with the skills and support to participate by both the Tennis Foundation and Sporting Equals has been brilliant.”
The winner of the Tennis Foundation Special Recognition Award will be announced at the Lycamobile BEDSAs in Mayfair on Saturday at an awards evening hosted by Sir Lenny Henry.