Wimbledon provided the inspirational backdrop today as the Tennis Foundation and Youth Sport Trust announced a three year partnership to extend an exciting social change programme, Beyond the Baseline, to 150 secondary schools and 1,500 young people over the next three years.
As part of delving deeper into the social impact that tennis can have, the Tennis Foundation has partnered with the Youth Sport Trust to create Beyond the Baseline to engage young people who are struggling with their behaviour, confidence or academic performance in school.
The initiative, which is provided free to schools who sign up, sees former and current professional tennis players expertly trained as mentors before working with disadvantaged schools to inspire children on and off the court and help them to maximise their personal potential.
The tennis mentors visit their nominated schools three times, over an eight to 12 week period, to share their story with a selected group of pupils. They inspire the youngsters with how they achieved success in tennis, as well as talk about the personal, social, creative and thinking skills they gained on their journey. The mentors also get the pupils active on the court to learn the skills of tennis whilst having fun. The group then work together to plan, organise and deliver a tennis project for other young people in their community.
Schools involved in the programme were at the All England Lawn Tennis Club today for a celebratory event to mark the success of Year One, which saw 152 pupils take part in the programme thanks to six inspirational mentors.
The programme found 87% of young people reported that their aspirations (the feeling they can achieve anything they want to) had either greatly increased or increased as a result of taking part in the Beyond the Baseline programme. Pupils also reported improved confidence, teamwork and communication skills.
Geoff Newton, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: “Beyond the Baseline is a ground-breaking programme that demonstrates the power of tennis to improve the lives of young people across Great Britain. We’re thrilled to be rolling out Beyond the Baseline to even more schools and to continue our close partnership with the Youth Sport Trust.”
Ali Oliver, Chief Executive Officer at the Youth Sport Trust, said: “We are delighted to grow our relationship with the Tennis Foundation, combining the Youth Sport Trust’s considerable experience in raising achievement and athlete mentoring with the power of tennis and the inspiration of elite players.
“This is a truly inspirational programme, using the power of sport to change these young people’s lives for the better. Beyond the Baseline is a great way to help young people reach their potential both on and off the court.”
Katie O’Brien, Beyond the Baseline mentor and former Great Britain No.1, said: “Tennis has been a huge positive influence on my life and being a professional player certainly develops skills for life. I want to show the pupils that whatever their background, they too can achieve great things and I’ve loved being a mentor and helping them develop their employability and life skills.”
Jon White, Lead PE Teacher, Claire Mount Specialist Sports College, said: “The Tennis Foundation has really tapped into something special and resourced something special that has an impact on attainment but is also enjoyable and fun. It plugs into the curriculum, it plugs into the wider aims for the children in terms of our school development plan and it’s been just a hugely enjoyable project. It’s been inspirational really.”
The programme is part of the Tennis Foundation’s award-winning education programme, which offers support, advice, funding and free equipment to schools, colleges and universities and is now a key part of the Lawn Tennis Association’s British Tennis Strategy.
Recruitment is now underway for the next cohort of Beyond the Baseline mentors with former and current British ranked professional tennis players invited to apply via the Youth Sport Trust website.
Beyond the Baseline is managed and funded by the Tennis Foundation and delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust. Find out more about Beyond the Baseline here.