With this year’s Wimbledon Championships just around the corner, youngsters will have the opportunity to make a different kind of racket when they’re given the chance to swing one at JW3.
Tony Hawks, a tennis playing British comedian, has agreed to help stage a fundraising event in conjunction with the Freddie Krivine Foundation – a co-existence tennis charity which has been teaching tennis to Jewish and Arab children in Israel for the past 15 years.
Mini tennis courts will be set up at the centre’s now famous down-sized replica Tel Aviv beaches, with professional coaches on hand to offer their guidance and advice, after which will follow a screening of Hawks’ film ‘Playing the Moldovans at Tennis’, with money raised going towards the Jewish Arab tennis programme.
Jane Krivine, daughter of the late Freddie, approached Tony, who also created the Tennis For Free charity, which brings children of different backgrounds together. She said: “My dad was concerned there were no Arab children playing tennis – which is why he set it up, to bring tennis to Arab children in Arab villages.”
Working with her father after retiring in 2004, she then took over when he died suddenly a year later. Trying to develop his ideas and get more children involved in playing tennis since, she said: “There are lots of opportunities for Jewish children to play tennis in Israel, there are wonderful tennis programmes, but there weren’t the opportunities for Arab children and through this we’ve been able to introduce Arab children to Jewish children. We’ve run programmes in schools, Jewish schools and Christian schools, while at the same time are looking to create tennis players and coaches.”
As it stands today, the Foundation has created tennis schools in 12 Arab communities, and offers tennis in scores of primary schools as part of the curriculum. The charity employs 15 pro coaches, Arab and Jewish, and manages tennis programmes all over Israel and tennis camps during the holidays.
Catering for 8-18-year-olds, the success of the charity has led to kids going to American colleges on tennis scholarships and playing in tournaments, all of which Jane describes as “very rewarding”.
Approaching Hawks about staging the event, she said: “I read the book Moldovans, have seen the film and thought what a great idea. I know Tony was a very fine tennis player and he also co-founded a very encouraging British tennis programme which is rather like what we do, it’s tennis for free where children are encouraged to play on tennis courts in parks, for children who had never played tennis before. It’s for children of all different backgrounds – it’s very similar in a way to what we’re doing. He’s a very funny guy and I was hoping he would give us a talk and a screening of his film, which he said yes to.”
Sunday is open to anyone who turns up, particularly younger kids with the mini tennis being on offer. “We have wonderful coaches coming over in Mohamed Rashwan and Kamal Kiwan, it’s all free so we hope parents bring their kids, have a go to swing a racket and really enjoy themselves”, she says.
Looking at the more general picture, she adds: “What better way to kick off Wimbledon than to celebrate that tennis is a sport for everyone and as with all sports we can use events like this to bring people together where previously there may have been a divide. My thanks go to Tony for his time and I can’t wait to see people having a fun-filled day of tennis and enjoy a very funny film.
“It’s important that people know the good things that are happening in Israel within the Arab sector as well as everything else that’s going on. It’s taking place a day before Wimbledon starts, we hope everyone will be thinking about tennis.”
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Tickets for the film screening are £30 each. Click here to book online: or call 0333 666 3366