Community Spirit: Steve Brown, Ipswich Sports Club
As a community sports club with a 120-year heritage, we have seen close-up the positive impact sport has – generation after generation.
Our modern roots are in tennis. Ipswich Tennis Club arrived at Henley Road in 1947, followed by the town’s hockey club in 1952 and then squash five years later. We’re regarded as one of the best tennis clubs in the country, with our academy catering for players up to national standard, and programmes for youngsters starting from the age of three.
Young hopefuls training at the club include 17-year-old Sophya Devas a former British No.1 Junior and whose pathway is inspiring other children. Similarly, the hockey club has produced several Olympians, most recently Hannah Martin.
We continue to be inspired by the Elena Baltacha Foundation, run from Ipswich Sports Club a decade ago, to support the work that the former British tennis No.1 had begun before she sadly passed away. Her aim was to give more children, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to learn to play tennis. Her passion lives on in the children who were given the chance to thrive by the charity and continue to play at our club, as well as abroad.
Elena’s desire to make tennis more accessible is one we share – for all sports.
While we’re probably best known for tennis, squash, and hockey, we want to extend our reach to more accessible sports like football.
The club’s history is intertwined with Ipswich Town Football Club. We both go back more than a century and our new President is its former manager and player, George Burley.
We want to nurture all levels of ability – from recreational beginner to elite athlete and we know that providing children with the right framework to develop their skills in a structured environment reaps rewards.
Our multi-sports pitch on Tuddenham Road is a perfect example. A state-of-the-art facility with trained coaches offers the perfect platform to inspire and motivate. We’re delighted that the Luke Chambers Academy, set up by Ipswich Town FC’s former captain, plans to make our club its permanent home, making football more accessible to children in a fun-filled way.
We also want our club to provide families with a welcoming environment where they can socialise while providing a springboard for youngsters to access sport and nurture their skills.
Can your business help?
However, we recognise that in making sport more accessible, we must break down barriers. We have to make it easier for children to get to our club.
So, we’re looking to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses to help with logistics like transportation – to provide minibuses, drivers and volunteers to bring children to the club as an example. But ultimately we need meaningful funding.
We want to work together to create a community asset that goes beyond sport. Let’s get the ball rolling.