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Blind Tennis project up for National Lottery Awards success

By Adam McKendry

A Belfast-based blind tennis club have been shortlisted for the 2018 National Lottery Awards.

Blind Tennis at Windsor Tennis Club, which is supported by National Lottery investment, is among the nominees for the Best Sport Project award.

The project, which is run by Sport NI and Disability Sport NI, is now in its second year after only initially being established as a six-week initiative.

Blind tennis players play on a modified tactile court with modified rackets and balls that have bells inside them.

Players are split into categories based on their sight, ranging from those who are partially sighted to those with no sight at all.

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search for the nation's top lottery-funded projects, with the ceremony a celebration of the people behind them to do extraordinary things.

The winning project will receive £5,000 and a trophy, and they will be invited to the awards ceremony on September 26, which will be broadcast on the BBC.

Judith Brennan, Active Clubs Coordinator at Disability Sport NI, said: "We are delighted to learn that the Blind Tennis at Windsor Tennis, Belfast has reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards 2018.

"The programme is proving to be a trailblazer for the sport in Northern Ireland, providing a platform for players to compete recreationally and nationally. In less than two years the programme has secured 15 regular participants and a world number two ranking.

"We have achieved so much in such a short space of time and we would dearly love to win a National Lottery Award for Best Sports project, so please vote for us!"

Congratulating the team on their nomination, Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown added: "Every day, National Lottery players are helping to transform local people’s lives through sport, and Blind Tennis at Windsor Tennis Club is an outstanding example of this.

"The project has enjoyed tremendous success in supporting people with disabilities to not only get fit and active, but also nurture new friendships, grow in confidence and pursue their sporting ambitions.

"On behalf of Sport NI, I would like to congratulate the club on being shortlisted as a finalist for this year’s National Lottery Awards, and thank the coaching staff and delivery partners for the difference they are making.

"Sport Northern Ireland has been proud to support this project – I would urge everyone to cast their vote, and wish the club and participants every success at the Awards ceremony in September. “

You can vote for Blind Tennis at Windsor Tennis Club by going to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards. Voting closes at midnight on July 27.

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