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Madley courts pupils to join tennis project
10:30am Thursday 17th May 2012 in Sport
Back row (from left) Madley School headteacher Lee Batstone, Tennis Hereford's head coach Andrew Griffiths, Joe Morris from the LTA, Madley Tennis Club chairman George Snell and Tom Gibbins, head of education for the Tennis Foundation
Madley Tennis Club have found an innovative way to triple their membership and promote the sport and their facilities in one straightforward move.
The club has established a link with the village primary school which will see pupils become club members and use the facilities as part of their sports programme, as well as enjoying further possibilities during out-ofschool time.
The initiative came from George Snell who, as chair of governors at Madley Primary School and chairman of Madley Tennis Club, was in an ideal position to facilitate the link.
“It is a fantastic link for the community and for the whole of Madley village,” he said.
“It’s a huge school of 200 children and the facility at Madley Tennis Club is magnificent so having them linked together is just perfect.
“It benefits the club because we use the courts more often and we get a lot of fit children for Madley and hopefully the Wimbledon champion in 10 years’ time.
“The club is very active with juniors, teams and seniors so there is some great potential there.
“We have around 100 members, it’s not a huge number and not that many of them play in active, match tennis.
But now we have a chance to start at grass-roots level and there could be some brilliant players.
“We want to expand and we have four courts, there cannot be that many villages with four all-weather courts and two floodlit courts—we just want to use the facilities and have fun. The future is very bright here.
”Thanks go to the LTA for helping to develop this link, Tennis Hereford, the head of Madley Primary School, all the people from Madley Tennis Club and the committee who have supported this — the initiative could not go ahead without the enthusiasm of all those people.”
School headteacher Lee Batstone has embraced the possibilities with great enthusiasm, seeing the possibilties as a further development for what is already an outstanding tradition for sport at the school.
“Sport is crucial and competition is crucial as well in the right way,” he said.
“Our core values are about respect and responsibility and unless you experience sport and competition—and experience defeat as well as winning — you will never have those skills to take into the work-place or into later life.
“If you play a game or a competition and you lose, then the other team are better than you, so you shake hands and that is the end of it.
“Tennis Hereford do coaching in schools on a Friday afternoon and it just grew from there.
“The aim is that hopefully the children will develop a love of tennis and, you never know, you might get the next champion coming out of it or even if they enjoy it just for pleasure then that would be great.
“We talk about finding talent in schools but sometimes you do not get the opportunity to find that talent.”
Tennis Hereford head coach Andrew Griffiths applauded the initiative which should provide a large increase in interest in the sport in the area.
“It is certainly a start for grass-roots rural clubs in linking with a school,” he said. “You get an ‘in’ to kids who are interested in sport, you get to speak to their parents and find out what they want within a couple of miles radius.
“We have a good coaching team out there and finding the kids whether or not they are good at tennis or just want to come out and play tennis. It’s really good and the Madley club is really getting going.
“If we can help all over the county in doing this, then it would be fantastic.”
Among the guests at the launch of the project were a number from the Lawn Tennis Association who greeted the initiative.
“Madley Tennis Club and the village primary school is a fantastic example of how a school and a club can work together,” said Tom Gibbins, head of education for the Tennis Foundation.
“It’s a great way to get kids from trying tennis at a school to carrying on in a community venue such as this.
“This is a different and innovative way of doing it and seems to be working.
“It’s a great example and we shall be using it as a good practice example to use with other clubs around the country.”