METRO Blind Sport has continued to serve up aces on its mission to introduce blind tennis to more countries.
Metro Blind Sport Chair Amanda Green and its Tennis Committee Chair Odette Battarell travelled to Dublin, Ireland on the weekend to hold blind tennis workshops at Vision Sports Ireland’s MayFest – a sports festival for vision impaired people and friends.
It comes after the duo, both former blind tennis champions, travelled to Germany earlier this month to introduce the sport, which was developed in Japan more than 30 years ago.
Tennis Ireland invited Odette and Amanda to attend MayFest to teach tennis coaches about blind tennis as well as hold workshops for participants on Saturday, May 21.
Odette and Amanda met the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, who attended MayFest.
Odette said she and Amanda gave an introductory talk to the coaches about setting up blind tennis in Ireland, including where to promote it, how to guide someone, how to do orientation of a tennis court and what drills to do.
“It’s not a sport that’s traditionally for blind people so it’s harder to reach the blind community,” Odette said.
She said 20 to 25 partially and totally blind people from all over Ireland took part in workshops.
“There were a couple of ladies who used to play tennis when they had their sight and had given up tennis because they didn’t think they’d be able to do it so they were very excited and surprised they would be able to play.”
“They were amazed that there were tournaments in other countries and people around the world are playing.”
Odette said some of the participants had never heard of tennis and needed the concept to be explained from scratch.
“It’s exciting to introduce something new to someone.”
“It was successful. People were smiling and asking questions and wanting to play, not letting go of the racket.”
Odette said a six-week pilot program would be started in Dublin to get the sport running in Ireland.
“The coaches seem to really get it and they were confident they would be able to start it off.”