BRIDGING BARRIERS

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Tennis coaches Ashod Paloulian and Tony Podesta. Picture: Rob Pozo

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Tony Podesta of the Tony Podesta School of Tennis.

ONE of the country’s favourite sports is helping to make new refugees feel at home. Liverpool’s Tony Podesta School of Tennis is offering tennis lessons to people in Fairfield next week as part of a five-week program aiming to help refugees settle into their new communities.

Refugees will be given a chance to try a much-loved Australian sport to help them settle into their new communities.

The Tony Podesta School of Tennis, which offers tennis lessons in southwest Sydney locations such as Fairfield, Harrington Grove and Merrylands, will launch its latest coaching program for refugees next week in Fairfield.

The school has partnered with Settlement Services International to deliver the program, aimed at children, teenagers and adults.

Head coach Tony Podesta said it was a good chance for refugees to get to know their new communities.

With many families starting from scratch, the program also aims to help refugees pursue tennis without a hefty price tag.

“The way we structure our refugee program is when they finish the program we offer them a chance to get involved in our holiday program for no charge,” Podesta said.

Three groups of up to six players will receive coaching over five weeks, culminating with a social gathering to celebrate their success.

The school’s commitment to this service is one of the reasons Tennis NSW recently acknowledged it as the Most Outstanding Club in NSW.

Podesta said the club had also been recognised for its support of Tennis Australia’s Hot Shots Program as well as its participation in the Sporting Schools initiative.

The key ingredient for success was consistency, he said.

“I think it’s just persistence and consistency and then also delivering a product (that you’re satisfied with),” Podesta said.

With 10 coaching staff, the club, which has operated since 1989, secures up to 600 bookings across different venues on a weekly basis.

It is now looking to offer coaching in other southwest Sydney locations.

“We’re looking at getting more involved in the Liverpool and Campbelltown areas,” Podesta said.

Tennis NSW also has nominated the Tony Podesta School of Tennis as the state entrant for the Tennis Australia Newcombe Award for the most outstanding club in Australia.

The winner will be named in January.