Tony Podesta believes tennis is a ‘lifetime’ sport. So who better to teach tennis to then recently arrived refugees settling into their new lives in Australia?
A group of 8 to 12 children and adults has participated in a Tennis Australia Multicultural Tennis Program for Refugees at the Tony Podesta School of Tennis in Fairfield once a week for the past 10 weeks.
“They have really been enjoying themselves and I’m glad they’ve had the opportunity to learn something new and something they might otherwise have never been able to try,” Mr Podesta said
Mr Podesta had been discussing the idea of introducing tennis to refugees with one of his tennis coaches, Mr Daniel Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins is a case manager with Settlement Services International, a not-for-profit organisation that, among other services, is the largest provider of humanitarian settlement support to refugees in NSW.
Mr Hopkins grew up playing tennis and wanted to share his love of the sport with some of his younger clients.
“It was very fortuitous that just as Tony and I were throwing around this idea, Tennis Australia was offering a grant for a multicultural pilot program,” Mr Hopkins said.
Together they submitted a proposal and The Tony Podesta School of Tennis was chosen to run a pilot program that Tennis NSW has observed carefully for a possible national roll out.
“We (Tennis NSW) are keen to increase community engagement and create a nurturing environment in which people from multicultural backgrounds can learn to play tennis,” said Tennis NSW Program Manager Michelle Howe.
“I watched a class last week and the kids couldn’t get enough. You could see that they were really enjoying themselves, and they didn’t want to give up the court when it was the parents’ turn”, Ms Howe said.
Mr Podesta said that tennis is a sport you can play at any level and any time.
“You can play daily at a competitive level, or you can play once a week when you’re retired. It’s social and healthy, and as I said, it stays with you for life,” he said. “I hope these new comers will choose to continue with tennis when this program ends.”
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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