28/03/11 - Down’s Syndrome Premier League Festival

Watch a video outlining The Community Down’s Syndrome Tennis project, a tailored tennis programme for young people with Down’s Syndrome, created by The Down’s Syndrome Association, Fulham Football Club Foundation and the Tennis Foundation

The inaugural Premier League Down’s Syndrome Football Festival last week featured tennis, thanks to the success of a partnership between the Fulham FC Foundation, the Down’s Syndrome Association and the Tennis Foundation.

The Festival, held at Motspur Park, was a chance for Down’s syndrome football teams from across England to come together to show off their skills in the professional surroundings of Fulham FC’s training ground.

The Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) invited nine teams, 84 players and their families to enjoy a special day that marked the start of this year's annual Down's Syndrome awareness events, coming just a day before World Down's Syndrome Day on Monday 21st March.

Tennis Foundation (TF) coach David Knipe was asked to lead a number of tennis sessions at the Festival for the younger age groups to introduce them to the sport and believes the day was a huge success.

"It was great seeing the children trying tennis as most of them had never played before. After each session the children had to rotate and move on to the next activity, but not many of them wanted to put the rackets down,” he said.

"Over the break time, we even had some of the kids coming over with parents and helpers to hit a few balls around. Although the day was mainly aimed at a football, it was great to give the children a taster of tennis and they seemed to really enjoy it.”

The TF has been working in partnership with the DSA and the Fulham FC Foundation to set up regular Down’s syndrome tennis sessions since January 2010.

The Community Down’s Syndrome Tennis Project, the first of its kind nationally, was started following the success of the Fulham FC Foundation’s DSActive Down’s syndrome football team and has been run from the Lawn Tennis Association’s National Tennis Centre and Tiffin School in South West London.

Last month the Speaker of the House of Commons hosted a seminar in Parliament to highlight the project. Alongside Parliamentarians, leaders in sport and disability heard about the project’s success in promoting inclusion through sport, which was achieved by a unique partnership between the three charities.

Parliament Celebrates Down's Syndrome Tennis Project

Former Sunderland, Everton and Wigan Athletic star Kevin Kilbane, whose seven-year old daughter has Down's syndrome, was also at the Festival in his role as patron for the Down's Syndome Association and hailed the day a great success.

"It's been a great event. There are so many teams involved now, which has been the key to the event being the success it is. It's wonderful to see,” said Kilbane.

"I became involved with the Down's Syndrome Association seven years ago. My daughter has Down's syndrome and I contacted them just for support at first, to try and see what the future had in store. Since then the DSA asked me to do a few events for them and to become a patron of the charity.”

Find out more about learning disability tennis.


 Tennis Foundation and LTA logo

The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain's leading tennis charity and works closely with the LTA to provide opportunities to encourage people to both play and enjoy tennis, as well as to maximise their personal potential through the sport.