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“It’s opened up a whole new world for me” - how tennis helped Essex-based mum connect with the local community

• 3 MINUTE READ

Mira, a multisport coach with Achieve Thrive Flourish (ATF) Community, based in Essex, had her life completely changed after attending an LTA SERVES session with her sons.

Mira and her husband decided to move from London to Essex, so they could buy a house and build a life for their young family away from the city.

Even though Mira knew this was the best decision, leaving London was very hard. After they had found their new house, and were driving back to London, Mira was in tears wondering what life had in store for them. What could a tiny village offer that London could not, how would they make friends, what activities would their children be able to take part in – the list of worries went on and on, and Mira confessed it took a big toll on her mental wellbeing.

When Mira and her family had settled in, they decided to attend an LTA SERVES session delivered by ATF Community, that was local to them. When they arrived, Mira said “the kids were hesitant to get involved, they had not done much sport when we lived in London.” Mira went on to explain “I had always avoided sport my whole life as well so couldn't even show them how to do it.  I kept thinking to myself, I should be able to set an example for them, and show them that it’s okay to get involved, so I just joined in.

“It was brilliant as ATF encourages parents to play with their kids in the sessions, so I immediately felt really comfortable, and all of a sudden, I was actually enjoying myself”.

With Mira getting involved, this gave her children the confidence to give it a go, which was a turning point for both Mira and her family, as the kids started regularly attending tennis and other sports sessions.  

Become a coach

With the children now all settled in and attending school, Mira was looking for a job. She knew she enjoyed working with children, but wanted to do something that would keep her active, so she thought why not look at coaching.

Where Mira was growing up, sport was not actively encouraged for young girls, and if you were not good at it, there was no support in place to help you improve, Mira said “I was scared of catching a tennis ball, I was so down on myself about it, and I had really low self-confidence”.  

Mira took on the coaching qualification despite this, and even though some of it was challenging as she did not have a sporting background, she qualified as a multisport coach and now delivers tennis and other sporting sessions with ATF Community.

She says ”I love being a coach. I love seeing people develop, and when they manage to do something that they couldn't previously. Or when they first come and say, I don't know how to play tennis, and I say, well that's why we are here – we are going to teach you and by the end they are loving it.”

Mira’s youngest son, really took to tennis, Mira said “Tennis has been great for him, he has always been quite introverted and shy and initially didn't want to try tennis or feel confident to do it but I kept encouraging him and saying he could do it and the fact that I was doing it helped, as I said you can be like mummy.

Now he is like a little social butterfly – he comes to the club, makes friends and it's amazing to see him coming out of his shell like that. He has been playing for over a year now. When I ask him what he wants to do when he grows up, he says he wants to be a tennis player!”

Mira went on to say “This journey has had such a positive impact on my mental wellbeing. From crying all the way here from London, thinking what the hell am I going to do, I don't know anyone to what I am doing now is incredible. I feel like my kids now look up to me like I am a hero, they say mummy you are the best coach! I have to keep pinching myself, as I just used to put myself down so much and say don't be like mummy, like being like mummy was wrong. And now, I am like be like mummy, try, and give it a go!

“Now when other parents attend the sessions and stay on the sidelines, I encourage them to come and give it a go. When they say I am not good enough I say give it a go, tennis is so fun, you might like it and normally by the end of the session they are smiling, and it gives me a huge sense of achievement, it just makes my day as a coach.

“I feel like the person I was when I moved here, versus the person I am now is completely different and that’s because of the SERVES session that I attended. It opened up a whole new world for me. I am more confident, and my self-esteem is through the roof!”

Get involved with an LTA SERVES session

Find out more about our LTA SERVES programmes, designed to help young people from underserved communities across Great Britain get active and experience the physical, social and mental benefits of tennis.

Find out more

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