The Building Tennis Communities (BTC) program is a large part of Tennis Alberta’s commitment to introducing people to the sport of tennis and to keep them playing the game for life. The approach is based on the philosophy that tennis has an important role to play in community development and, if seen by community leaders (e.g. local business owners and government, youth organizations, school boards, etc.) as making a valuable contribution to the health of the community, tennis activities will be supported over the long term. Through the BTC program, Tennis Alberta identifies communities within the province where there is a strong Community Champion and potential to increase tennis participation. Grant monies are used to provide tennis pathway programming in the community, and to build partnerships with community partners and leaders.
Over the last three years, Alberta has engaged 10 communities across the province in the BTC program, collectively introducing over 7,000 new participants to the sport of tennis. The Community Champions have done an amazing job of promoting tennis and contributing to the overall health of their communities. The success of this particular program is largely due to the central philosophy to first serve the interests of the community. Through a commitment to share the enjoyment of physical activity, the spirit of competition and the social environment that tennis provides, tennis helps communities to address issues and concerns such as: childhood obesity, youth inactivity and crime, after school programming, productive social interaction, increasing community spirit, increasing tourism, and providing physical activity opportunities for seniors.
Current Alberta BTC Communities:
- Airdrie and District Tennis Association
- Canmore Tennis Association
- Highlands Community Tennis Association
- Medicine Hat Tennis Society
- Oakridge Racquet Club
- Okotoks Tennis Centre
- Parkland – Park 96
- St. Paul Tennis Club
- West Edmonton
- West Hillhurst
If you are interested in becoming a Community Champion or if you’d like more information, we want to hear from you! Please contact Tennis Alberta or e-mail Jill Groves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUILDING TENNIS COMMUNITIES: DESCRIPTION
The model being used to guide the implementation of this Strategy is grounded in three key components: Community Champions, Community Partners and the Tennis Pathway.
A ‘Community Champion’ is a person or group who are passionate about tennis and well connected to other community leaders (e.g. youth group leaders, town/city councilors, health professionals, police, local business people etc.) in his/her city or town. Community Champions might be retired persons, teachers, entrepreneurs, tennis coaches or volunteers…anyone with the time, interest and a general understanding of its community needs. It is essential that the Champion live in the community.
The role of this individual is to ensure that strong partnerships with community leaders are established such that those community leaders clearly understand the role that tennis can play in contributing to the reduction or elimination of some community problems (e.g. overweight kids, delinquency, etc.) and to increase community spirit (via community-based events, etc.).
‘Community Partners’ are community leaders that have been identified by the Community Champion as people who are important to maintaining the health of tennis in the community. Community Champions are encouraged to establish partnerships with education, tennis and parks and recreation leaders as a starting point and are encouraged to consider partnerships with others in the community such as: local businesses, media, politicians, doctors, police, etc. It is suggested that the Community Champion, with the assistance of his/her Provincial Association contact, host a ‘community tennis rally’ where community leaders are brought together to discuss the benefits that tennis brings to the community and to agree on an action plan that meets community needs.
The ‘Tennis Pathway’ consists of four components on a continuum: Try, Learn, Play and Compete. Each of these components can be put into action through various programs and activities depending upon community needs. For example, a Try activity might be a tennis demonstration area as part of a larger community event where children and adults can come and try the game in a fun environment. A Learn activity might be a series of lessons interspersed with opportunities to play the game. Moving participants from one level of programming to the next along the continuum is important to ensuring that participants stay involved.