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Council supports future First Nations tennis stars

Council supports future First Nations tennis stars
Published 20 February 2024
City of Playford is set to host the inaugural First Nations Tennis Program this February, at the Playford Tennis Centre in Elizabeth East.

Run in conjunction with Tennis SA, the seven-week training program will provide First Nations school-aged children the opportunity to learn to play tennis in a fun, safe and structured environment.

Led by qualified coaches, the free sessions will be held weekly from 28 February, and include training in all areas of the game, as well as the opportunity to be involved in cultural and healthy lifestyle sessions.

The program is the first of its kind in South Australia and builds on the partnership between Tennis SA and City of Playford to provide First Nations children with access to the sport.

“We have partnered with Tennis SA to deliver the annual National Indigenous Tennis Carnival (SA) at the Playford Tennis Centre since 2021,” said Mayor Glenn Docherty.

“Last year we had 170 students from six local schools registered to play in the carnival which shows a growing interest in the sport.”

The First Nations Tennis Program will run in the lead up to the 2024 Indigenous Tennis Carnival (SA), offering students an extended opportunity to learn and hone their tennis skills before showcasing their newfound experience at the carnival.

“The National Indigenous Tennis Carnival (SA) has been a fantastic stepping-stone for Tennis SA to engage with our First Nations community,” said Tennis SA CEO, Debbie Sterrey.

“We are delighted to have partnered with the Office of Recreation Sport and Racing, and the City of Playford, to bring to fruition the First Nations Tennis Program, aligning with our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

“We hope the community can come together to continue to celebrate their culture and heritage, and enjoy the fun and fitness involved with tennis.”

Council’s support of the First Nations Tennis Program is the latest addition to its commitment to connecting community through sport.

“Sport plays an important part in the lives of many people in Playford,” said Mayor Docherty.

"Sport unifies people of all backgrounds and brings together our diverse community through a shared passion. It can build skills and creates friends for life. We want to make sure there are pathways for all people in our community to get involved.

“Council has been actively providing opportunities for young First Nations people to be involved in tennis – whether creatively or athletically – for a number of years,” said Mayor Docherty.

Since 2019, students from Playford International College have engaged in school-run workshops to design and build tournament trophies for the winners of the City of Playford Tennis International.

“Students have showcased traditional methods of woodworking and painting through the creation of the trophies, and we are proud to provide a way for this reflection of culture to be shared,” the Mayor said.

During the 2023 Playford Tennis International, a 6x4m mural honouring tennis greats Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Indigenous Tennis Carnival ambassador, Ash Barty, was unveiled at the Playford Tennis Centre.

“The mural is a celebration of our city’s strong and proud Indigenous tennis culture and the role the Playford Tennis Centre is playing in supporting a connected, healthy and happy community,” the Mayor said.

2024 will mark the 4th year of the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival (SA), which has seen hundreds of young people get involved during its lifespan.

“The addition of the First Nations Tennis Program will provide even more opportunities for our young people to get involved in this popular sport,” the Mayor said.

The National Indigenous Tennis Carnival (SA) is part of a wider First Nations initiative from Tennis SA and has received $95k funding through the Government of South Australia’s Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing, along with $15k from the City of Playford to be used over a three-year period.

Registrations for participation in the program close on Sunday 25 February.

You can find out more information and register HERE.