As a keen runner, occasional mountaineer and committed Barnsley Football Club fan, I’ve always been passionate about sport and the important role it plays in our community.
Again and again I have seen sport be such a positive force for good in people’s lives, particularly for young people.
As a parent, I’ve seen the benefits of sport with my own children, through the sense of enjoyment and achievement they get from taking part in the Barnsley Park Run in Locke Park on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
But if running is not your thing, here in Barnsley we are fortunate to have an impressive range of sporting facilities and clubs, from cricket, rugby and road cycling to our very own Lawn Tennis Club.
Recently I was delighted to attend the opening of Barnsley Lawn Tennis Club’s fantastic new tennis courts. It was great to see the results of the team’s hard work to upgrade and expand their facilities. The club now boasts seven courts and is on a mission to increase participation in the sport, and is particularly keen to encourage more young people to give tennis a try.
Sport provides young people with the opportunity to come together to learn, forge friendships and develop their ability to work within a team. It is also proven to develop communication skills and encourage self-confidence; all whilst helping to maintain a basic level of fitness, helping young people to stay healthy and improve their overall wellbeing. Tennis in particular has the added bonus of developing self-reliance and resilience: when you’re standing at one end of a court and facing your opponent head on there really is nowhere to hide!
But tennis is not just a young person’s game and the club are keen to encourage adults to come along too.
The health benefits of tennis are widely documented. The British Heart Foundation recommends tennis as good all-round sport which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Playing tennis also improves flexibility and co-ordination, boosts brain power, improves bone health and is a great way to stay healthy.
But on top of everything else, playing tennis is just good fun. I don’t pretend to be a particularly good tennis player, but whenever I have the chance to play with my family, there is always much laughter!
With Wimbledon just a few weeks away the nation will soon be gripped by tennis fever, so now seems a good time as any to pick up a racket.
Barnsley Lawn Tennis has an impressive coaching programme for all ages and offers free taster sessions for both children and adults.
If you think your children may like to try tennis out, the club’s Junior Core programme for 5-16 year olds runs every Saturday morning and is billed as a “Fun Entry Level” session. The club also offers great development opportunities for more advanced young players. They would be delighted to discover a budding Andy Murray or Johanna Konta right here in Barnsley!
The club also offers evening coaching sessions for adults on their new flood-lit courts. They cater for any skill level, from complete beginners to more experienced players.
I hope many of you will go along and sample the fantastic facilities the club has to offer. Find out more on their new website here.
This article was first published in The Barnsley Chronicle on Friday 1st June.