‘When we started our partnership with the LTA, we never thought we would be here today!’ - Pro-Touch Sporting Academy wins prestigious BEDSA Award
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It was celebrations all round for Pro-Touch Sporting Academy (PTSA) as they were recently named ‘LTA SERVES Community Tennis Project of the Year’ at the annual British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs) in Park Lane, London.
Created by Sporting Equals, the BEDSAs recognise and celebrate the contributions made by black and minority ethnic communities to sport. The event has become a key date in the sporting calendar, and aims to help increase sports participation by BAME communities and inspire the next generation of sporting talent. The LTA are a supporter of the awards, along with the likes of Sport England and UK Sport.
Established in 2006, Pro-Touch is a charitable social enterprise that manages both sport academy and community programmes across London. Run by sports professionals, PTSA joined the LTA’s SERVES programme in 2018 to introduce tennis to BAME communities in Camden, Islington and Enfield. Fast-forward two years and PTSA have around 30 young people engaged in SERVES on a weekly basis, at both of its delivery venues.
Speaking about their award win, PTSA Chief Executive Ash Rahman said: “Saturday night was an incredible but moving night for all involved with Pro Touch SA. We work with some of the most genuine and brave young people across the capital and last year was emotional for us all. When we first introduced tennis within our community programme, not everyone was excited at the thought of it replacing other sports such as football. However, with the help of the LTA and our 30-strong passionate, committed and qualified staff, the transition was smooth. Offering once in lifetime opportunities such as tickets to the Fever-Tree Championships and The Championships, Wimbledon are priceless rewards for all participants involved and I’m immensely proud of the impact we have made within our BAME communities to date.”
“When we started our partnership with the LTA two years ago, we never thought we would be holding a nationally-recognised award. To achieve something like this within tennis shows how far we have all come and I feel immensely proud of all involved.”
SERVES is the LTA’s leading sport for development programme that takes tennis to places it has never been played before and to people who may never have picked up a racket or thought tennis was for them. Working with a range of national partners who have expertise and contacts in the target areas, it takes tennis out of its traditional areas and right to the heart of disadvantaged communities. People from those communities are then recruited and trained to help deliver sessions.
Over 30,000 young people have been engaged in the programme to date and over 900 coaches, youth workers, community and faith group leaders have been trained as tennis activators.
Other SERVES organisations on the shortlist at this year’s BEDSAs were Khizra Masjid & Communities for All (Manchester) andYoung Asian Voices (Sunderland) – both of whom deliver tennis sessions to young people who have never had access to the sport previously and never thought tennis was for them.
Kiran Matharu, the LTA’s Community Tennis Manager, said: “The LTA is delighted to continue our close work with Sporting Equals by supporting this year’s BEDSAs and showcasing the work being done to engage BAME communities in tennis. SERVES sites across the country are doing amazing work every week and Pro-Touch is a leading example of the way tennis is embracing a greater diversity of young people. All of the shortlisted organisations aim to unite and transform communities and we are proud to have all of them part of the SERVES programme.”
Read more about our work with SERVES here.