From Ghana to Lewisham – The tennis journey of Isaac Frimpong
• 5 MINUTE READ
As one of the longest serving tennis volunteers in Lewisham, Level Two LTA Accredited Coach Issac Frimpong is helping to change the lives of people in his community through his passion for the game.
We spoke to Isaac’s daughter Annis, an up-and-coming tennis player in the family, last year and are now shining a light on Isaac’s tennis story, the impact he has made and what Black History Month means to him.
Since his move to London from Ghana, Isaac, who is a member of the LTA’s IDEA Group (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility), established last year to help drive inclusion and diversity in tennis, has given much of his time to developing tennis within his local community.
Now based at Catford Wanderers Tennis Club, having initially joined Burgess Park Tennis Centre when he first moved to the UK, Issac is opening up the sport to more people in his local area. In 2016 he was selected as one of the 1,000 tennis coaches nationwide to deliver a Davis Cup Legacy programme and now leads free tennis sessions for youngsters within the community, giving them the opportunity to play and fall in love with the game.
Tennis Journey from Ghana to London
There was one tennis court in the area where I grew up in Ghana and I used to walk past it on the way to school. A friend of mine used to ball boy there and I remember parking up there one night and watching a game of tennis, the first time I had seen a match. I asked the following day if I could be a ball boy there but was refused, I wasn’t seen as the right fit. It didn’t deter me, and tennis still ended up becoming a big part of my life.
Moving to inner city London, you see very quickly that football is very prevalent. My boys were playing football, but my daughters wanted to play tennis, so I went down to my local tennis club, Burgess Park to offer my time as a volunteer, and received a very warm welcome. They provided me with the opportunity to do my Level 1 coaching and opened up opportunities within the game of tennis that enabled me to make a living. That was 11 years ago when it all started for me.
IDEA Group Participation
I was keen to join the IDEA Group because I wanted to help. If there are things to highlight, I can share these opinions, whether from myself or on behalf of the club so they can be addressed as part of the process going forward with the LTA. Ultimately, we want more people playing tennis, so having a group committed to maximising opportunities for everyone to play tennis was appealing to me.
Black History Month
Black History Month is important to me because it allows for new learnings and discussions about the trials and tribulations black people faced around the world, as well as revisiting the trials and troubles of black people of the past and seeing how far the progress of black people's rights has come since then.
For me, people need to remember not only the struggles of black people just in the UK, but also the discrimination of blacks in the world as a whole, along with those who have helped to allow for blacks to have greater freedoms, like how Kofi Annan, the first black general-secretary of the UN who promoted the bettering of education in Africa and Doreen Lawrence, who advocated for a fair legal system for all people in the UK. For me though, we need people to be able to widely research black history in education, which would help many blacks understand their history better.
Things have improved since I arrived here 30 years ago, and it is good to see many people from different races fighting for civil rights. For example, when George Floyd got killed in America, Blacks, Whites and people of various races all over the world joined together to fight for a common cause, which highlights the progress being made.
For inspiration, I have always looked to my God, Jesus Christ. From a sports background - Karim Abdul Razak was a footballer for the Ghana national team. He also played for the team I follow, Asante Kotoko. He was a hero back home and a very good player for the national team when Ghana won the 1978 African Cup of Nations.
What inspired my children to play tennis was exercise, to keep themselves fit and off the streets. I've always had the belief that sports is a ticket for children from all backgrounds to get out and maintain a healthy lifestyle. When I saw the Williams sisters playing, they captured my attention and I decided that if I ever had any daughters, I'd get them involved with tennis.
If you are inspired by Isaac’s story and want to get involved as a volunteer in tennis, please click here for more information.
Black History Month takes place across the month of October and aims to promote and celebrate Black contributions to British society, and to foster an understanding of Black history. This year’s theme is ‘Proud to Be’, inviting Black and Brown people of all ages throughout the UK to share what they are proud to be.