The Tennis Foundation knows how tennis can help build confidence and develop skills, both on the court and off. The SERVES programme aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged people by giving them the opportunity to play tennis.
In 2016 PopUpArena has been a partner to take tennis into places it’s never been before, equipping local people trusted and rooted in communities with the skills to provide tennis activities for everyone. As part of the SERVES initiative working with the Tennis Foundation, we have delivered over 45 PopUpCourt systems into less connected communities across the UK.
To make SERVES happen, the Tennis Foundation in partnership with PopUpArena has operated closely with specialist national sport for development partners including Sported, Streetgames, the Prince’s Trust, Sporting Equals, London Youth and Places for People, as well as Local Authorities, Children Youth Services and Faith groups.
The Lawn Tennis Association wanted to do a PopUpTennis Tour in busy public spaces across London, the South East, South West and the Midlands regions during the summer of 2015. The aim of the Tour was to engage new participants, promote opportunities to play tennis locally, and promote major tennis Championship events.
Meeting the Challenge
PopUpArena’s role at each event was to set up and take down the PopUpCourts, the LTA and local clubs/partners role was to deliver the coaching sessions and activities. PopUpArena would also be on hand throughout the day to help out where required, and at the end of the day ensure the site was left as on arrival – often cleaner!
Tennis was taken to where people were and their facilities were not: High Streets, Shopping Centres, Market Squares, Promenades, Parks and Open Spaces. With 45 events across 10 cities - in excess of 10,000 participants had a go at tennis. Local clubs and coaches were able to promote and sign-post opportunities to play back at their clubs for on going participation. Tennis became mobile and accessible to more people, and a lot of fun was had playing tennis.
A partnership between Nottingham City Council Sport Development and Nottinghamshire Police wanted to provide an activity to target disaffected young people, particularly those from some of Nottingham’s most deprived wards. The idea behind delivering a Street Racing event was inspired by the 150m street race held in Manchester in 2009 featuring Usain Bolt. We felt that an activity that required very little equipment and expense for young people would be an ideal way of engaging them.
Having decided on the type of event we wanted to deliver, we now needed to engage with young people. Nottinghamshire Police did this through delivering local Street Racing events in communities, by closing down a street in a local neighbourhood and allowing young people from 8 to 19 years to compete in races on their doorstep. These events were very well received with 5 delivered across different communities engaging almost 100 young people at each event.
From the success of the localised events, Nottingham City Council Sport Development, with Nottinghamshire Police and Notts Athletic Club delivered a city wide Street racing event in the Market Square. To create real impact and a highly professional “arena” for the event to attract hundreds of passers by in the city centre, we worked with PopUpArena who provided a package including an 8 lane 60m track, grandstand and team benches. This alongside a professional timing system for the event greatly enhanced the participant experience. Additional activities to engage young people in further sport and physical activity opportunities included a climbing wall, a street football arena and additional athletic events such as high jump and standing long jump.
The event was marketed to previous participants of the local Street Racing events as well as broader citywide marketing in schools and targeted promotion to community groups and organisations such as Catch 22. In addition to this Nottinghamshire Police referred young people to the event through its outreach community programme.
The event and project overall has been very successful. The citywide event attracted over 300 young people as participants and hundreds of spectators added to the exciting atmosphere. At the event there was a considerable amount of interest in getting involved in athletics and young people were signposted to Notts Athletic Club as a pathway to continued participation.
Following the acknowledged success of the event, a Street Racing Academy has been established. This is a weekly athletics session, primarily aimed at disaffected young people that have an interest in athletics but may not want to be part of the formal Notts AC setup. These sessions are led by Notts AC and Nottinghamshire Police, with support from Nottingham City Council. 20 young people regularly attend these sessions, and have made considerable progress in the sport, with many now starting to compete in regional competitions.
Following this success the Street Racing event will again be delivered in Nottingham’s City Centre in 2011, with further plans to expand the Academy and integrate many of these young people into Notts Athletic Clubs performance teams.
Making a difference:
The participants from the Academy have all shown a very high level of dedication and commitment. They deserve most credit for this when the image of most young people from similar backgrounds is less favourable. Within an extremely short time several individuals have developed physically to a level where they are ranked within the top 500 athletes for their age and gender. They have done this despite being overlooked by their schools and local community.
The impact of a professional athletics arena “literally popping up” in the city centre, played a huge part in attracting many young people on the day, something that wouldn’t have been possible without the visual drama the infrastructure supplied by PopUpArena.
Combined with the dedication and support from officers from Nottinghamshire Police and their drive to make a positive impact on the lives of young people, the whole experience was successful.
“PopUpArena transformed the city centre square into a real athletics track for kids to race 60 metres. It was really dramatic, exciting and inspiring.”
Leader | Nottingham City Sport Development Team
To provide a safe, all weather, multi-sport areas. The surface needed to be suitable for hockey, netball and cricket. The school site is small with only tarmac outdoor spaces available for sports use. We needed multiple areas that responded to the needs and technical aspects of a high quality sporting education – for example the ‘squeeze’ technique in hockey.
The performance surface must work well when wet or dry and the cushioning of the surface has resulted in little or no injury.
Meeting the Challenge:
We initially laid three PopUpPitch areas. The largest covered our ‘basketball’ caged space and opened up the possibility of introducing hockey on the school site. Previous to laying a PopUpPitch this area was out of bounds when wet due to H&S. The lunchtime and after school sessions we are now able to run have contributed to a very high level of performance by the children. The PopUpPitch performance surface has been very responsive to all the needs of hockey. It has played like a true water based astroturf when wet and has enabled numerous skills to be taught which would have otherwise not been possible. The second space was a 4 lane 20 metre running PopUpTrack which is particularly useful in PE lessons for fitness testing. The third space was a square area which was used for small sided PopUpCourt games and various fitness tests.
We did however experience problems in very strong winds, which could lift the tiles up. This problem was solved by PopUpArena providing a special tape to stick the EVA Ramped edges down to the tarmac. This has proved to be a successful solution and has enabled us to lay a PopUpWicket for cricket on the playground and transform the hockey pitch into a cricket pitch as well. We understand that a new heavyweight ramp edge is in production and this will prevent lifting in the future.
The difference this has all made has been very significant. The learning of the pupils has clearly been enhanced through the quality of the surface and the variety it enables. The pupils always want to use the PopUpArena areas, whether it be a break time or during a formal Physical Education setting. The attitude of the children is very positive and they have pride over the facility in keeping it in good condition. Before we introduced the PopUpArena with the school being based in busy West London, most sporting activities were off site. Now we are able to hold many extra sessions on site due to this facility. Children now bring their own hockey equipment to play with at lunchtime, if not involved in a structured session, both of which would have been impossible previously. We are seeing participation rates soar and much enthusiasm generated in the pupils.
Specific example of a young person to benefit:
There are many children who have benefited from not only an increase in participation but also in an improved technical ability. Ridah Bouhiaoui, the inside right for the U13A hockey team has learnt and developed the ‘squeeze’ skill and regularly uses this to impressive effect in school matches, such as county competition. Other children who do not play in the teams have also been able to see others practicing. They copy the skills being taught and develop the confidence to replicate them in activities such as house competition.
Why did it work?
The simplicity of configuring and laying out the surface led to the project being very successful. The storage and portability of the PopUpArena is also relatively easy. The lack of a real sporting facility on the school site had often been highlighted previously but this solution has enabled us to have one and furthermore it has boosted the profile and quality of the sport at the West London Free School.
“The lack of a real sporting facility on the school site had often been highlighted previously but this solution has enabled us to have one and furthermore it has boosted the profile and quality of the sport at the West London Free School.”
Sam Naismith | Headmaster