Tennis lessons a big hit with traumatised families

Professional tennis coach Wesley O'Brien who is giving free lessons to young Ukrainian refugees.

FAMILIES and particularly children who have sought shelter in Limerick and Clare from war-torn Ukraine are being offered free tennis lessons as they reach for some kind of normality in their emergency accommodation.

Professional tennis coach Wesley O’Brien from Killaloe is about to commence lessons for the families who are being accommodated in the Radisson Blu hotel in Limerick, and has been giving free lessons at the Killaloe/Ballina Tennis club, where he teaches the game.

Wesley, who also coaches in the Limerick Lawn Tennis club, is no stranger to helping displaced people relax and unwind a little through the sport.

“For four years, I’ve travelled to refugee camps in Greece and Turkey to teach. I bring all the equipment and spend a couple of weeks teaching people then leave the nets, balls and rackets behind so they can carry on playing after I’ve left,” he told the Limerick Post.

“When people started coming here from Ukraine, I thought ‘now it’s on our own doorstep so why not do something here?'”

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Wesley takes on the coaching and travel abroad in his own time and at his own expense, through his small organisation, ‘Hit and Hope’.

“It’s only a game of tennis, but hopefully, it gives people a chance to come together and have something they can enjoy,” he said.

Wesley is currently offering free lessons to refugees on Saturdays, but hopes the coaching will provide a past-time when children are out of school for the summer.

“The kids who have arrived here are in school now but in a couple of weeks, they will have holidays and they will have nothing to do.  If they get involved with the tennis lessons at least they will be able to get to know other families and children, and teenagers will be able to meet people their own age,” Wesley added.

Further information is available from Wesley’s Facebook page, Hit and Hope Tennis.