A Yorkshire-based sports coach is taking tennis into mosques in Bradford, fulfilling her life-long ambition and providing chance for the next generation of players and coaches.
As a role model for many young women and girls, Nalette Tucker set up the Sunnah Sports Academy Trust in 2014, offering sport lessons, including tennis coaching, to communities in Bradford.
“I first started delivering tennis after going to an inclusive workshop where I discovered a project called SERVES, which the LTA were hoping to get into the community,” Nalette told LTA Tennis.
“I’ve always loved tennis – I was never fantastic at it, I’m a bit too heavy handed, but I loved it – so I jumped on the chance to do the activator training and we went from there.”
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Four years later, she began delivering tennis sessions in a host of faith-based schools, churches, and mosques through the LTA SERVES program.
“We started delivering sessions in schools and in faith settings, like mosques, in Bradford. Everyone got on board and loved it, so it stuck!” Nalette said.
“In Bradford there is a large Muslim community and for the average Muslim child, they will go to school from 8:30am-3:30pm and then go home, get changed and go to the mosque from 5-7pm – so the kids would always say they didn’t have time.
“We came up with an initiative where we would go into the mosques and offer to deliver sessions for free, provide all the equipment and train up their staff, just so we could come in for an hour to do some sport.
“It took off and now we’re working with 20 organizations in Bradford, giving children access to physical education that they wouldn’t normally have outside of school.”
“I definitely think perceptions are starting to change – the SERVES program helps normalize the sport so they don’t see it as something that isn’t for them.”
Working in the community for many years, Nalette says her efforts have helped normalize sport in the community.
“We try to pull on tennis players that they can relate to so Heather Watson is a perfect example – the kids are like ‘wow she has the same hair as me’, they love it,” she said.
“Having role models that they can relate and look up to is very important – what Heather has done for young women and girls in the UK is amazing.”
Muslims’ approach to sport is often determined by religious, cultural, and ethnic factors.
In general, Islam promotes good health and fitness and encourages both men and women to engage in physical activity to maintain healthy lifestyles.