METRO Blind Sport will serve up an ace when it introduces blind tennis into Germany.
Metro Blind Sport Chair Amanda Green and its Tennis Committee Chair Odette Battarel are travelling to Cologne this weekend to hold a blind tennis workshop for Deutscher Blinden-und Sehbehindertenverband e.V. (DBSV), the German Blind and Visually Impaired Association.
Blind Tennis was developed in Japan by a man named Takei Miyoshi more than 30 years ago but it still hasn’t hit many countries, including Germany, around the world.
Odette, SELVis Project Development Manager, said blind tennis, which was also known as Soundball Tennis, was played on a smaller court than standard tennis with a sponge ball that made a noise when it bounced.
She said the standard rules of tennis applied with a few modifications including being allowed three bounces if you’re totally blind and two bounces if you’re partially blind.
Odette said blind tennis started in the UK in 2006 when Japanese tennis players held a workshop, which she attended, as part of a plan to spread the sport around the world so it could become a Paralympic sport.
She has since become a national champion player and helped teach other countries, including France and Spain, and other areas in the UK including Brighton, Cambridge, Sunderland and York, about blind tennis.
Odette, who was number one in blind tennis in the UK for about eight years, said the DBSV had seen a Metro Blind Sport tennis video on YouTube and contacted her about introducing blind tennis in Germany.
Odette and Amanda, who won doubles in the national tournament last year, will hold a session for the DBSV, expected to be attended by 15 totally blind people and five partially sighted people as well as coaches and volunteers, to teach them about blind tennis and do some drills.
“We want to get people enthusiastic about it to show it’s possible and it can be enjoyable and sociable,” Odette said.
She said she enjoyed introducing blind tennis to others and helping people discover a new sport which was not traditionally a blind sport.
“So many people we meet love listening to tennis and love tennis but have always been told and thought they would never be able to play,” Odette said.
“You hear a lot about tennis. To be able to try it out and do it, it makes you feel less marginalised, more like a normal person. You’re taking part in what other people can do.”
“It’s exciting to be part of the development of a new disability sport. You feel like you’re making a difference to people’s lives.”
Odette said there were about 30 countries around the world which now had blind tennis and in the UK alone there were about 400 weekly players.
“We have people in their 20s, 60s and 70s, people who are fit, some who just do it for fun, and some who are competitive.”
Look out for our next piece reporting on how the workshop goes.
To find out more about blind tennis, visit www.metroblindsport.org