My name is Judith Brennan and I’m the
Active Clubs coordinator for people with sight loss within Disability Sport NI. So
initially the programme started with a six-week pilot programme and it was so
successful that we were then able to put sessions on on a weekly basis
because we had the numbers for people wanting to come along and it’s still
continuing now which is obviously a great success. So blind tennis differs
from sighted tennis due to the court. So the court is modified – it’s slightly
smaller than a standard tennis court. The balls that are used are audio balls or
buzz balls so they’re sponge balls slightly larger
than a tennis ball and they have bells inside so the participants can hear.
The racquet sizes are the same, they still learn the same skills in terms of
serving but and the scoring system is exactly the same – it’s just slight
modifications just to help them along the way. So the initiative has been a
great success and so many of the participants have told me personally how
wonderful it’s been and how they have improved. A lot of them suffered from
depression beforehand and I think the depression has greatly improved from
participating. A lot of them have felt that they’ve become fitter and healthier
their mental well-being is much better, some of them have lost weight – due to
this they’ve maybe got themselves involved in other sports and gym memberships
because they want to improve their fitness so that they continue on with
the programme, so it really has made a massive difference to their lives
and also given them confidence. A lot of them wouldn’t leave the house
beforehand – the confidence to get on public transport and get themselves
to the sessions has been fantastic. Without the support from Sport NI
and the National Lottery funding we would not have been able to
start this initiative and it wouldn’t have been sustainable.
It’s really really helped the programme it’s something that – it gave me the
opportunity to approach the club and to get them on board and lots of
partnership working and Sport NI have continually supported the programme. Thank
you to the National Lottery for funding our blind tennis programme within Windsor
Tennis Club in Belfast

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Dennis Veasley

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