ON January 14, Tennis Jamaica (TJ), in association with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), hosted 80 children from four basic schools, all within the Liguanea community, at a mini-tennis training camp.
Former national representative Richard Russell hosted the children at the Russell Tennis Academy's multi-coloured courts located at 36 Hopefield Avenue. The initiative is the pilot project for the first 80 free introductory classes committed by Tennis Jamaica's developmental programme.
Using the ITF's Play and Stay method (colourful, oversized tennis balls and larger but lighter racquets), the session was enthusiastically received by the four and five-year-old children, 20 each from four schools: the Providence Methodist Basic, Sandy Park Basic, Gospel Refuge Hill Basic and Shady Grove Basic School.
Richard Russell, the Academy's director and arguably the most enthusiastic of all, said: "The order and discipline of the kids surpassed all expectations and the teachers at all four schools must be highly commended." He added: "We recognise the untapped talent of our children falling through the cracks and we, at the Academy, have committed to playing our part in unearthing such talent for the great game of tennis by offering over 10,000 free classes to basic and prep schools over the next five years as our contribution to Tennis Jamaica and the overall development of the sport in Jamaica."
As part of this first phase of the programme, Tennis Jamaica seeks to create the opportunity for all teaching pros in Jamaica to be certified at the international level to ensure that all tennis programmes at basic and prep schools will start off with international coaching standards.
TJ extends its heartfelt thanks to: the ECC for co-ordinating the schools' participation and overall assistance; Richard Russell and the Academy for their enthusiasm, expertise and generosity; Campion College for transportation and their willing participation, and the Campion students who volunteered their time to mentor the children on the day.
Tennis Jamaica looks forward to the unfolding and implementation of this exciting programme during 2013 and actively seeks corporate sponsorship to this end for the benefit of Jamaica's children.