Chesterfield Tennis Club named Parasport’s Club of the Month
Chesterfield Tennis Club’s track record in being a smash hit at breaking down barriers for disabled people in sport has seen them rewarded with Parasport’s Club of the Month award.
Tennis Chesterfield is a tennis outreach company which calls Chesterfield Tennis Club home, part-owned by Tennis Services Manager Andy Bell
Since getting involved at the club 15 years ago as a keen volunteer while doing his coaching qualifications, Andy has overseen the tremendous growth of a club which proves that sport has the power to help disabled people realise their potential.
The club has cultivated a real community spirit, finding ways to get anyone and everyone involved, and it’s been recognised for its work – having won the Active Derbyshire Inclusive Club of the Year award for the past six years in a row and been named Midlands Club of the Year by the LTA in 2020.
“We really strive to make our club a friendly, welcoming place to be,” Andy said.
“It’s not necessarily about getting anyone to be a world-beater, it’s about the social aspects, growing the social groups, making friends.
“Learning life skills, from meeting new people to being put in different situations. We try and make it so it’s somewhere where they feel included and where everybody around the club all accept everybody.
“We’ve got a really good social atmosphere. The parents will sit together, chat and share their lives – it’s like therapy for the parents as well.
“We’re famous for being a big community. It’s just great to see everyone in a happy place and have somewhere where they can enjoy the sport.”
Even lockdown couldn’t keep a good man down, and Andy and the club kept going by producing fun and educational Youtube videos in an effort to keep members active and working on their skills at home.
In addition, the club invested in an online platform which acted as their own private Facebook-like social app complete with a newsfeed, direct messaging, videos and statuses for members so they could share and maintain social connection through the lockdowns safely.
It’s for this adaptability and the way the club engages huge numbers of people no matter what that they’ve been named Parasport Club of the Month for June.
“When we first went into lockdown there was that worry of what life was going to be like after,” Andy added. “Is there going to be a tennis club still there standing? Can we carry on?
“We decided not to rest, we did loads of YouTube videos of simple skills and ways you could progress them. With a lot of kids out of school we thought to use maths and English in those sessions too.
“Without our club there’d be more and more disabled people who are inactive. If you ask the parents today they’ll say there’s hardly anything out there for their kids.
“We have a lot of young adults or children with learning disabilities and autism – when they start coming to the club they’re mainly pretty quiet but they’ve all come out of their shell.
“They all feel comfortable and they’ve all made friends for life. They’ve obviously got better at tennis and built their co-ordination up, they’re more athletic. It’s making their lives a lot better.”
Paul Cox, Parasport’s Head of Communications, explained the choice of Chesterfield Tennis Club to receive the recognition
"We are very proud to announce Chesterfield Tennis Club as our Club of the Month for June, which is a focal point of its community,” he said.
“The way they have continued to engage participants during COVID-19 has been exemplary.
"What we love most about the club is its welcoming ethos that makes having fun their biggest priority.
“At Parasport we aim to empower disabled people with the information they need to make decisions about the physical activity that is right for them whether their motivation be physical or mental wellbeing, learning something new or making friends and having fun.
“We look forward to following their progress and growth in the coming months, especially as restrictions slowly ease."
Parasport is developed by ParalympicsGB in partnership with Toyota as part of their commitment to making movement better for everyone. To discover inclusive local opportunities to become more active, visit parasport.org.uk