Tennis fans in Plymouth are set to receive a huge boost following the news that the Friends of Devonport Park community group has secured a grant worth £10,010 from Barclays Spaces for Sports (BS4S), to help deliver free tennis sessions for players of all ages and abilities at the Devonport Park Tennis Courts.
Portable floodlights will allow playing hours to be extended throughout the year and volunteering and coach education opportunities will be offered through a new tennis community hub at Devonport Park. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has also confirmed its support, providing additional kit and equipment and subsidised coaching qualifications.
The funding that the Friends of Devonport Park group is receiving from BS4S is part of a UK-wide Sustainability Programme implemented by BS4S and the Football Foundation in 2011. The Sustainability Programme demonstrates Barclays commitment to ensuring all of its 200 community sports sites across the UK have a long-term future and remain manageable for local volunteers and organisations to run.
BS4S uses sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities and tackle key social issues by helping young people develop a range of life skills. It is part of Barclays’ community investment programme and wider Citizenship agenda. Since 2004, BS4S has built 200 community sports sites in the UK through a successful partnership with the Football Foundation.
The new funding into the Devonport Park Tennis Courts follows an original BS4S grant in 2005, worth £49,997, which funded the refurbishment of the existing tennis courts, as well as a development grant worth £20,000 to deliver a programme of tennis activities for the local community.
Plymouth City Council’s sports development unit has played a key role in bringing all partners together to ensure this funding will build sustainable opportunities for the local community to enjoy and play tennis for years to come. The funding has enabled the partners to buy new rackets, balls and equipment and offer all tennis coaching for free. The new project will be launched during June, in the build-up to Wimbledon 2012.
Councillor Peter Smith, Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "This funding from Barclays Spaces for Sports will help to get more people playing tennis, with after-school activities for young people and ‘come-and-try’ sessions for adults and families.
"We look forward to working with the Friends of Devonport Park and our partners to create a new community hub for tennis that will hopefully inspire people of all ages and abilities to pick up a racket."
Mike Gallagher, Chair of the Friends of Devonport Park, added: "We are delighted that we have been chosen by Barclays to try to ensure the long term sustainability of Tennis in Devonport Park.
"Working with Barclays the LTA, Plymouth City Council Sports Development Unit and Tennis for Free, we will be able to encourage much greater use of the Devonport Park courts."
Georgina Loosemore from the LTA, spoke of their optimism surrounding the project: “The LTA are delighted to be involved in the development of tennis within Devonport Park.
"We are fortunate in Plymouth to have a wide range of places to play whether it be park sites or clubs all offering different playing opportunities including mini tennis for young children to cardiotennis for people looking for a tennis work-out.
Paul Jessop, CEO of Tennis For Free, said: "We are delighted to be opening a Tennis for Free scheme in Plymouth. Tennis can be enjoyed by people of all ages and levels of fitness. Our other sites across the country have attracted over 70,000 visitors and are turning into thriving tennis communities.
Kirk Harrison, Head of Barclays Spaces for Sports, commented: “We are committed to the long-term sustainability of all our Barclays Spaces for Sports sites and the additional funding that the Friends of Devonport Park have received is an example of this.
"We’ve been working closely with the Football Foundation throughout the programme and by offering financial and non-financial assistance to sites, we aim to ensure all sites can continue to make a positive impact in the local community.”