What is it?
Tennis For Free as a Charity operates on Public Park tennis courts nationwide, our mission being to make the courts as open and accessible to all members of the local community as possible in a fully inclusive way, especially targeting those from low income or deprived backgrounds.
Is there a need?
Sports participation has been on a decline for over a decade apart from one increase following the 2012 Olympics,
tennis participation has also declined over the same period despite Andy Murray winning Wimbledon and the
Olympics. Tennis is played by virtually the lowest percentage (2.3%) of low income families than any recognised
sport yet there are tennis courts in public parks lying unused, locked and being charged for.
Why do people have to
Other park facilities are free. Why not unlock the courts, address the problem of the % of low income families being excluded from the sport and use an existing infrastructure to start the reverse in the decline of sports participation and reinvigorate the public park.
How do we do this?
We work with local councils and tennis providers to operate all activities on the courts. Free mass participation games and drills for all ages are held at weekends to encourage all of the community to join in, other chargeable group sessions are held throughout the week addressing the needs of the community, a strong element of free"walk on and play” exists on all sites to encourage casual players to take up the game. Sites are linked to local Clubs in order to provide a pathway and help Clubs recruit new members.
How do we monitor our achievements?
TFF have developed our own bespoke software system "Courtline” to track all attendees on park sites, statistics show gender, age, ethnicity, locality and frequency of use. "Courtline” enables the tennis provider to manage allactivity on site and enables TFF to produce accurate information for governing and governmental bodies previously unavailable.
What is the cost?
The average cost of a TFF site over 3 years is £15,000, this includes the provision of all equipment, storage, PR,subsidised coaching and "Courtline”. There are no court charges as we use existing facilities. Head office costs are kept at a minimal level with one full time employee, one part time and occasional external consultants. The current 3 year strategy shows an income requirement of £750,000 over this period.
How do we raise funds?
Over 90% of funding has come from interested individual donors and annual fundraising events matched with Gift Aid. In 2014 TFF entered into a 3 year partnership agreement with the LTA providing a percentage of direct costs for a specific number of sites. TFF have recently appointed a non-executive income generation Director and are currently in talks with a number of corporates regarding sponsorship. As the Charity grows the demands on raising additional funds increase.
Where are we now?
Tennis For Free are now over half way through a published 3 year strategy, by the end of 2015 TFF will have between 33 and 35 sites nationwide, in line with the strategy and on target for 50 sites by the end of 2016."Courtline” is installed at 19 sites with over 15,000 individuals registered at these sites, once "Courtline” is installedretrospectively at older sites this number will rise significantly. The statistics show that we will achieve our published target of 40,000 new players at our sites over this 3 year period.
What lessons have we learnt?
In order to encourage a new breed of player to the courts we have refined the weekly mass participation session into specific games and drills for 3 groups defined by age and ability. By ensuring the same criteria is followed on all TFF sites nationwide the sessions become sustainable, run by a mixture of coaches and volunteers, we keep it simple and effective.
The Tennis Provider is the most important element in the scheme, they need to understand that the weekend sessions provide a bespoke populace for their ongoing weekly sessions. By keeping the session simple and fun participants will keep coming back and using the courts at various times throughout the week for casual and organised sessions.
We have closed some sites where the provider is not appropriate or the numbers are too low, we are implementing"Courtline” on older sites and ensuring the older sites transform their sessions to fit in with the defined games anddrills on all sites launched over the last 18 months which we have learnt are the most enjoyable and effective.
We need to ensure that the success of the TFF scheme in reenergising the courts by making them free and open to all sections of the community does not ultimately lead to councils and operators locking and charging for courts based on our success, the message needs to be that the success of the courts is based on them being open and accessible to all sections of the community as a public facility that should not be privatised or seen as a form of income generation in direct conflict to other similar facilities.
Tennis For Free Session Structure:
Over the next 18 months we will complete our 3 year strategy to have 50 sites nationwide bringing in over 40,000 people to the game of Tennis via public parks. Once 50 sites are fully operational we will have over 100,000 attendees annually at TFF sessions plus additional attendees throughout the year utlising the park courts for casual play. 50 parks will have thriving community sports facilities open to all sections of the public 52 weeks of the year.
We will introduce "Community Courts” on a number of sites, one court will be painted a different colour to the othercourts on site and will be used week round for group games based on a simple version of "TFF Quick Fire”, this will
help to cope with the demand for court space, can be used as a "warm up” instead of sitting waiting for a court, anumber of players will just want to play this fast version of the game, the court becomes fully flexible. It is also an
opportunity for court sponsorship and to raise funds for the Charity.
Tennis For Free will publish a new 3 year strategy by the end of 2015 covering the next 3 years, 2017 -2019 and will continue to campaign for this model to be used as the Grassroots policy for the sport and also as an example to other sports as part of the Governments current plans to create a new Sports Strategy for years to come.
In order to complete the current 3 year strategy and to have the tools in place for expansion over the next 3 years the Charity will need to increase its staffing structure both at head office and in the field, this will enable TFF to continue to support sites already operational, upgrade historical sites, and with the support of the LTA in finding sites potentially launch at least 50 sites per year from 2017.
Central overheads including developing a field team of TDO’s will rise to £225,000 (currently £100,000)Direct site costs in 2016 will increase to £237,500 (currently £150,000)
In order to launch 50 sites in 2017 Direct site costs will rise to £587,500
In summary, the Charity needs to increase its income stream in 2016 to £450,000 and in 2017 to £800,000
This will provide an infrastructure to double the number of attendees on our park sites to over 200,000 p.a. in 2017, additionally to expand into Clubs and TFF mini sessions, the number of new people participating in the sport through these avenues could be significant, it would change the perception of local Clubs providing a regular ongoing flow of new members.
Staff and Officials
John Kinder, Tony Hawks, Patrick Hollwey
Non-Executive Director Income Generation:
Baroness Angela Billingham Pat Cash
Stephen Fry David Mitchell Judy Murray
10th Anniversary Dinner
In February 2015 TFF hosted a 10th Anniversary Fundraising dinner at the AELTC Club Wimbledon, gross income from
this event was £86,000. Guests were targeted from City firms and high net worth individuals. Celebrities who
supported the Dinner included Jo Brand, David Baddiel, Pat Cash, Andrew Castle and Peter Fleming.