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The game plan

KALYAN ASHOK
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TENNIS An initiative to make the game accessible to all was launched recently

Net resultMore youngsters will take to the courts
Net resultMore youngsters will take to the courts

Tennis is an expensive game, be it the kits, training facilities or coach, everything comes at a premium. The game is out of reach for under privileged children. There is a divide between those who can afford to play the game and those who can only dream of doing so. A recent initiative, by Atria Convergence Technologies (ACT) a Bangalore-based broadband service provider with BBMP and the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) is set to turn that dream into reality.

ACT Play Tennis, was launched at a colourful function at the KSLTA Stadium here last week. The initiative aims at providing all BBMP-run schools in the city with free internet connectivity and the Play Tennis project. Launched by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the project uses shorter rackets and softer balls, thus providing a scientific way for a child in the five to 12 year age group to learn tennis.

Over 2,000 children from over 50 government and BBMP schools thronged the KSLTA Stadium. For many, it was their first taste of the sport. “I never thought I would hold a racquet,” Anirudh, a sixth standard student from a BBMP run school in Shivaji Nagar, said. “I have seen the game on television and always thought how nice it would be to play.”

The KSLTA in the past had conducted mini tennis clinics for children. This, however, is the first time that a project of such magnitude is being undertaken. The Deputy Chief Minister, R. Ashoka, who is also the Senior Vice-President of the KSLTA, played a major role in ushering in the initiative. A visibly-elated Ashoka said: “We have always wanted to make tennis a game of the masses and shed its elitist tag. Thanks to ACT and the KSLTA, we are offering a viable programme to under-privileged children and we hope we can unearth talent among them.”

The minister promised help from the Government to spread the programme to schools in the districts as well. C.S. Sunder Raju, the chairman of the ACT and secretary of the KSLTA, said after a modest beginning covering about 30 schools, the ACT initiative would cover the entire State in due course and get at least one lakh children on court.

Such an effort needs lot of ground work and according to Sunil Yajaman, coordinator of the programme, the project would go on stream after from the next academic session and the identified schools would get racquets and kits and balls for the mini tennis programme. Trainers from the association would be sent to execute and monitor the programme.

KALYAN ASHOK

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