Foundation children savour special tennis trip

Youngsters from the Chelsea Foundation enjoyed a day to remember last week as they visited the National Tennis Centre to take part in the annual Premier League Tennis tournament.

In total 15 six-player teams travelled to Roehampton to take part in the tournament, which gives young people the opportunity to represent their club at the home of British Tennis and showcase the skills they have learnt during the year.

And after a competitive morning playing the timed-touch tennis matches, the teams were given the chance to watch the professionals at work as they went to soak up the atmosphere at Wimbledon.

Among those representing the Chelsea was Maisie, who took up tennis under a year ago after an injury stopped her playing table tennis with the Foundation.  

‘Chelsea were offering the tennis club after school,’ she said.  ‘As I'm trying to complete my PiXL Edge award - where you have to complete different tasks within the community such as organisation and leadership - I thought tennis sounded good fun.

‘I've got a few friends that play and I thought it might be worth giving it a go. They didn’t discriminate or say 'you can't play tennis, you're not good enough'. That's why I've enjoyed it so much, there's no pressure.

‘It's helped my table tennis, and my table tennis has helped my tennis. They work together and I'm improving in both.

‘Having not played before, and then being brought into competitions like this, it's quite nerve-wracking but it's definitely made me more confident.

‘I feel I can pick up something new and give it a go; that it doesn't matter what level you are, you can still pick up a racket and give it a try.

‘If you had asked me in September whether I would be here I would have said definitely not.

‘It's amazing seeing where professionals train. I haven't played outside of the Chelsea sessions yet. But after this tournament, I've really enjoyed it, I'm inspired, so I probably will start going to an out-of-school club, maybe speak to a coach.

‘Without this programme I wouldn't really be playing tennis. I didn't think it would be my thing but I'll definitely carry on when I get home.’

The Chelsea Foundation offer their programmes as part of the Premier League multi-sport initiative, which uses the power of football clubs to inspire young people to get involved in 12 different sports.

Tennis is one the activities included in the Premier League multi-sport programme, which began in 2009 and uses the appeal of professional clubs to encourage young people to take up different sports.

After the competition at the National Tennis Centre, the players were given another treat - a visit to Wimbledon to watch some top-class tennis.

‘To go to Wimbledon is amazing, and all my family are very jealous. I didn't think it'd be something we'd do,’ added Maisie.

‘If you put that extra hard work in, you get experiences like this.  I think part of this is as well is through me working hard in school and in all my lessons.

‘The programme is very inspiring. It gives people a chance to experience things they wouldn't necessarily experience with their family and outside school.

‘It's a humbling thing and I'm very grateful for it. I'm very proud to be involved.’