Esteemed Australian tennis coach and former professional player Louise Pleming has created an organisation to help disadvantaged Australians enjoy physical activity and greater human connection.
The story of how she connected with a homeless man three years ago that led to the establishment of Rally4Ever was recently featured on Australian Story on ABC TV.
Local tennis coach Helen Magill has brought the program to Parkes and the first free session took place yesterday.
“We are reaching out to at-risk groups and to those who are feeling ‘stuck’, looking for connection and an avenue to better mental and physical health,” said Louise. “We are not mental health professionals, nor do we claim to be, but we have seen the benefits of exercise, movement and connection on mental health.”
Rally4Ever has developed an ongoing tennis program that aims to bring people together on court. Each session ends with a short, guided interaction that builds camaraderie and connection and is designed to retrain the brain to think positively and focus on ways to move forward.
“What we are doing can change lives,” said Louise. “I know that because I’ve seen it happen. Three years ago, I was approached by a homeless man when I was volunteering at an inner-city soup kitchen. Brian Turton recognised me as a former professional tennis player and Grand Slam commentator and asked if I would play a game of tennis with him.
“We’re now firm friends and our weekly hit-out has led to so many positive changes in his life – he’s in housing, interacts more positively with everyone and has just earned his own coaching accreditation.”
The program runs every Thursday at the Parkes Tennis Club, Victoria Street from 1 – 2pm. To join in a fun and free session of tennis email email@example.com or call 0407 253 888.