The Tennis Federation of Cambodia’s fast spreading network of Schools Tennis Initiative, in partnership with Cambodia Airport, has now reached the culturally rich Siem Reap province within weeks of Battambang joining the fold.
Svay Dongkum Primary School has become the 19th educational institution in the country to wholeheartedly embrace this grassroots program, with up to 70 boys and girls being systematically initiated into tennis, and that number is bound to grow.
Running this novices project for the TFC is Helen Slee from England, who is now teaching English for an organisation that helps orphanages. She carries with her vast experience of imparting mini tennis lessons to under-privileged kids from poorer parts of London.
Many of Slee’s students from orphanages attend the Svay Dongkum Primary School, which has graciously provided one class room for English lessons and its premises for tennis classes.
“The school is fully supportive of this program and there is tremendous potential for growth. The TFC is thankful to our main STI partner Cambodia Airport in helping us take tennis to all provinces,” Mam Phalkun, head coach of the Schools Tennis Initiative and Junior Tennis Initiative, told the Post yesterday.
TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit said they were fortunate to be working with an individual such as Slee.
“[She] is so passionate and dedicated besides being experienced in carrying out this task of teaching tennis. I am immensely happy that we have added yet another school and province to our list of priorities,” he said.
“We have a few more schools and provinces in our sights and the ultimate goal is to take tennis to all provinces and as many schools and orphanages as possible and create for kids an opportunity for better life through tennis.”
In the next couple of days, Slee will discuss with Mam Phalkun an action plan she has already worked out to regulate the coaching sessions.
The school management is excited over the new outdoor activity being introduced since more and more students are keen to join the program.
“I did my first session. It was very much a trial and error sort. I had begun the lessons with about 25 kids and finished with about 70,” Slee told the Post, highlighting the growing interest in tennis among kids.
Last month the TFC introduced STI in two Battambang schools under the care of former WTA player Irene Rehberger Bescos of Spain.