December 8 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 30, 2013
FRE Flyers staging regular sessions for all
Youngsters from across the borough have the chance to try their hand at tennis for free, all thanks to Newham-based club FRE-Flyers.
A big blue metal crate under the Canning Town flyover is being turned into an instant tennis centre on a daily basis, complete with racquets, sponge balls and mini-courts.
The event is coached and hosted by local youngsters from the FRE Flyers multi-sports club.
And despite a location that could certainly not be confused with the lush green grass of Wimbledon, hundreds of people have turned up to have a go.
“It was funny,” said 17-year-old Dawn Clarke, one of the FRE Flyer tennis activators.
“People would walk by, have a look and go away again. Then they would come back and ask how much it was to play.
“When we said it was free they couldn’t believe it. They were on the court within seconds.”
Chris Grant, one of the FRE Flyers founders and supporters added: “The main thing is bringing sport to where people are and welcoming them in. It works. It lowers barriers. People respond to it and love it. It takes them about a minute to realise they can play and another 90 seconds to start smiling.”
Among the visitors to see the scheme was Geoff Newton, executive director of the Tennis Foundation, which has helped to train the FRE Flyers tennis activators.
“I think the whole concept is marvellous,” he said.
“To take sport into the community – it’s absolutely right and it’s a vital part of broadening the base of the game.
“We also want to build a wider and more diverse workforce and this helps do exactly that by giving the activators experience.”
The Instant Tennis is the latest development in the progress of the FRE Flyers who began as a group of east end children receiving coaching from the GB men’s hockey team.
Their on-going plans also include joining a hockey league, playing a significant number of their matches on the Olympic site as they continue to develop as a club, offering other sports and ultimately becoming an open-door multi-sport club for the whole community.
The facility at Canning Town is open Monday to Thursday every week until September 19 from noon until 6.30pm.