A Cheshire tennis coach has just returned from a 2 week trip serving up tennis in Blantyre, Malawi. Joanne Trataris, head coach at both Prenton and Glan Aber Tennis Club’s in Chester delivered daily tennis sessions to local schools as well as providing training for teachers in the borough during her trip.
Joanne, who was born in Greece and spent some time in Malawi before moving to the UK in 1998, was inspired to help after seeing the condition of the courts at Blantyre Sports Club in November 2016.
‘When I saw the condition of the 5 clay courts at the club I knew they needed help – it was 20 years since I had been there and they were in an even worse state than they were then – they needed complete reconditioning if more people were to use them. No question of it I wanted to help as I have a real affinity with Malawi’.
Upon returning to the UK Joanne set about raising the £6000 which would be needed to revamp the courts organising duck races, fun days and court sponsors. Joanne successfully secured a sponsor for each court at the club with each sponsor donating £500 towards the target. Geotechnic, Gordale Garden Centre, Miles Macadam, the Benin family and the Barry family now all have banners adorning the courts at Blantyre Sports Club. Cheshire County LTA also kindly donated surplus T-shirts and Clothing for the trip. Once the funds were raised and the courts regenerated Joanne then jetted off to Malawi with 100kg of tennis equipment to help launch a programme on the new courts.
Joanne was kept busy during her 2 week trip delivering free tennis to 60 local schools. School children aged 7 to 14 came each day for a 3 hour session with Joanne.
‘When word got round about the opportunity local sponsors also came forward to provide food and drinks for the kids. Donna’s eggs supplied 2 eggs and a bread roll for each child which doesn’t sound much to us but this was a real treat for these kids’ explained Joanne.
Joanne’s main concern however was ensuring that there would be some sustainability for tennis in the area when she returned to the UK so she also delivered a 2 day, 12 hour Tennis Leaders course to 50 local teachers.
‘Most of the teachers had never played before but thanks to the 2 day intensive course they can now play, score, run a tiebreak and run a basic round robin competition’ said Joanne.
Back in Cheshire, Joanne runs her own full time coaching business which employs other coaches and now also has a charitable arm - ‘One of my other coaches has just returned from a tennis project in Thailand which we paid for – he spent 2 weeks working with kids and communities over there’ said Joanne.
'I would love to return to Malawi in 2-3 years’ time and see how they’re getting on and if the programme is still running. I would also love to bring some of the coaches from Malawi over here to get some formal qualifications in the future’.
Joanne continues to raise money for her international tennis projects and you can contact her to donate via her website: www.chestertennis.com