LTA and Judy Murray launch pilot partnership to empower female tennis coaches from underrepresented communities
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The LTA and Judy Murray joined forces on Friday 21 June to help equip 20 young female coaches from underserved communities in Birmingham with the skills to deliver introductory tennis sessions to women and girls.
The event, which was held at the University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness Centre, was the first collaboration between LTA’s SERVES initiative and She Rallies programme, which is delivered in partnership with Judy Murray. MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill also paid a visit to the session.
LTA SERVES was developed to engage a broader audience in tennis, and aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people by giving them the opportunity to take part in regular tennis activities, while She Rallies works to develop a female work force to create more opportunities for women and girls in tennis.
In the first half of the event, Murray passed on specialist advice to the young coaches, which they then put into practice alongside the former Fed Cup Captain as she led a special session with 30 local school girls.
The session used drills and games from the She Rallies ‘Teen Girls Starter’ programme, which aims to spark an interest in tennis among teenage girls by providing a basic introduction to tactical play and court positioning.
The coaches at the session were LTA SERVES ‘Activators’ – youth workers and faith leaders from the local community who have been trained to give tennis coaching sessions. The aim of the partnership is for the coaches to combine these skills to enable them to empower more young girls from disadvantaged communities in their area to get involved with tennis.
Providing pop up courts and equipment, LTA works with 160 organisations and ‘Activators’ to deliver Serves sessions in over 200 community venues ranging from youth clubs to mosques and temples.
76% of SERVES participants are from the 30% of most deprived communities in the UK, and nearly half the participants are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
Judy Murray said: “I’ve had a fantastic morning working with the coaches. It was great to show them a class in action which gave 27 teen girls a chance to try tennis for the first time. Women and girls are still hugely underrepresented in tennis and partnerships like this with the LTA are vital if we are going to encourage more girls to try tennis and more women to get involved in delivering.”
Claire Wheeler, LTA Community Tennis Manager, said: “The LTA wants to break down barriers and change the perception of tennis by opening it up to new audiences. It is through initiatives like this and by working with people like Judy that will help us achieve this. The SERVES programme brings tennis to places and people who wouldn’t necessarily think it was for them, and it’s important that we show tennis is a sport for all. It was fantastic to see both our Activators and the school girls who came today inspired by the sport and long may that continue.”
Both the LTA’s SERVES and She Rallies programmes are supported by Sport England, and this pilot partnership between them aligns with Sport England’s ambition to support more people from diverse backgrounds into the sport and physical activity workforce, and to help ensure they have a really positive experience once they are engaged.
Find out more about She Rallies here.