Blind tennis seeking Paralympic status
A sports club for blind and partially sighted people is confident that a variation of tennis can gain Paralympic accreditation.
London’s Metro Blind Sport aims to increase sporting opportunities for the visually impaired by running specialised sessions in various locations across the capital.
And the organisation, which was founded in 1973, believes Sound Ball Tennis, the fastest growing VI sport in the UK, will break into the Paralympics.
Amanda Green, Chair of Metro Blind Sport, told the Sports Gazette: “The road to the Paralympics is a long and bumpy one.
“We need approved international rules and ten years’ worth of tournament history before being considered, so the first event we could look at is 2032.
“It’s going to be tough but the sport’s beginning to emerge in more and more countries and internal structures are beginning to take shape.
“We’re passionate and confident that we can take the sport to the next level and push for a Paralympic slot. That’s the long-term ambition.”
Sound Ball Tennis was invented in Japan in the 1990s and allows those with sight loss to play tennis by using small courts and a sponge ball which rings as it bounces.We truly believe the sport has the credentials to appear at the Paralympics”
“VI tennis came here from Japan as a demo sport in 2007,” Mrs Green said.
“And we immediately believed we could harness it and make it into a popular and successful game for people with visual impairments.”
Metro have since organised several local and national tournaments and are planning to run an international tournament at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton next year.
Odette Battarel, a Level 2 Sound Ball coach and six-time women’s singles champion, claims these tournaments are evidence of the sport’s sustainable and prosperous future.
“We truly believe the sport has the credentials to appear at the Paralympics,” she said.
“The main aim right now is to increase participation of the sport, but it would be truly amazing for the sport to announce itself onto the world stage.”
Darren Kail, 45, competed for Great Britain in Judo events at Sydney and Athens, and also believes it is only a matter of time before Sound Ball becomes a Paralympic sport.
“While competing at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games there was Wheelchair Tennis and that has become pretty big recently,” he said.
“I’ve been playing Sound Ball for a few years now and I see no reason why it can’t follow in the same path.”
For more information about Metro Blind Sport or Sound Ball Tennis visit: www.metroblindsport.org.