Children and young people across the Leeds District can enjoy tennis at home during the coronavirus lockdown thanks to a major donation from the LTA, the national governing body for tennis in Britain.

The LTA has arranged for almost 5,000 rackets to be distributed to young people in low socio-economic groups across the country via StreetGames, its Official Charity Partner. Hundreds of these rackets are set to make their way to families across the region, with the support of Leeds Council and Leeds Community Foundation, who have volunteered their services to distribute the rackets in collaboration with local community sports groups.

The move forms part of the LTA’s Tennis at Home campaign, developed in answer to a Government call to help keep the nation active during the current period of restrictions, and supports StreetGames’ #SportHelps campaign – a national effort to provide alternative ways for young people from disadvantaged communities to stay active at home in the absence of regular sports sessions.

The #SportHelps campaign - through partnerships with sporting organisations, community groups and businesses - is helping young people and their communities by providing resources, supplies, and advice to improve mental and physical wellbeing during the current pandemic.

In addition to the donated equipment, young people will receive specially developed guides on how to enjoy a range of fun, tennis-based activities from the comfort of their own home – not matter how little space they may have to exercise.

The activities and drills have been created as part of LTA Youth, a new programme developed to help grow the sport from the grassroots, providing fun, safe, inclusive and competitive activity that develops children as both players and people. The video series, which can be viewed at https://www.lta.org.uk/play-compete/lta-youth/tennis-at-home/ has already attracted hundreds of thousands of views, and has been endorsed by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Councillor Debra Coupar, Deputy Leader for Leeds City Council and Executive Board Member for Communities said:

“We are delighted to be a part of this scheme and distribute 300 tennis kits across Leeds through our community care hubs that are currently delivering Healthy Holidays Covid-19 response activities.

“Even with the recent challenges presented by Covid-19, we have still been able to provide funding to over 30 third sector organisations, who are directly supporting their local communities by delivering emergency food and activities for all of the family.

“We hope that these kits will help to bring fun and excitement to just some of the families throughout our city that need it the most during these uncertain times.”

 

Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Board Member for Children’s and Families at Leeds City Council said:

These tennis kits are a fantastic boost for our Healthy Holidays programme – which supports children and their families in Leeds, offering free, fun activities to help reduce health inequalities and support active lifestyles.

Pressures are mounting on already struggling families and this work, adapted to the challenges of lockdown, is more important than ever. I’m delighted that StreetGames and the Lawn Tennis Association are providing resources and support that will reach the young people who need it most at this time.”

Julie Porter, LTA Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We’re very pleased to be working with Street Games, as part of our vision to open tennis up to more people, by putting rackets in the hands of the young people they work with in Leeds through our Tennis at Home campaign and LTA Youth activities.

This is a difficult time for us all, but potentially even more so for young people from disadvantaged communities, and so it’s more important than ever that everyone is given the opportunity to find enjoyable ways to stay active at home. It is great that we can help provide an outlet for those people who are currently not able to attend the sports sessions that are so vital to their physical and mental wellbeing.”

 

Mark Lawrie, Acting CEO of StreetGames said:

“The current lockdown is hugely challenging for all of us, but especially for the children and young people StreetGames supports. Many families, especially those in disadvantaged communities, are facing weeks trapped in small living spaces without access to gardens or large green spaces.

Our #SportHelps campaign is working to support children and young people through these testing times, by providing resources and support to brighten up their days and enjoy fun, physical activity no matter where they are.

We’re delighted to have the support of the LTA in this mission. These rackets, and the brilliant video series the LTA have produced, will allow us to get thousands of individual young people up and moving at home.”