Active 2014

Judy Murray helps pupils have an ace day

TO a group of nearly 60 spellbound primary pupils, Judy Murray offered some insights into what it takes to make a Wimbledon champion.

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These youngsters enjoyed making a racket after the session
These youngsters enjoyed making a racket after the session

Who knew swingball, sushi, Milky Bar desserts and Percy Pig sweeties would all play a part?

The games Scots tennis star Andy Murray played when he was young and the food he still likes to eat today were among the tasty morsels revealed by Judy.

There was only one sigh of disappointment from an enraptured little boy when he discovered that when Andy was at school he liked maths.

Judy, who was tennis coach to Andy and her other son Jamie, was at St John's Primary in the village of Blackwood, near Lanark, to encourage youngsters to play tennis.

On a makeshift court in the playground with a knee-high net and sponge balls they hit the ball back and forth across the net under Judy's expert eye.

The message was loud and clear: you don't need a tennis court to play tennis, just plenty of enthusiasm.

Judy said: "It's very important to me that the success of Andy and Jamie and the profile of tennis in Scotland allows us to grow the game and to give a lot more youngsters and adults the opportunity to try tennis."

"It's not every village or town that has tennis courts, but to come into the schools and show them how to use the space they have in the playground or the gym to set up little mini tennis courts with sponge balls and small rackets gives them a little bit of an idea of what it's all about.

"To get the chance to try tennis is huge; you never know which children might just get really sparked by that and want to go and join a class at their nearest venue."

Importantly, it also shows teachers and parents that you don't needs lots of space or money - a piece of rope strung across two chairs and a sponge ball and kids can play with their hands.

St John's Primary has only three classrooms and when the games were over the children got the chance to ask Judy about her champion sons.

"I love doing this kind of thing," she said. "Kids ask questions about what Jamie and Andy were like when they were young and you are able to say to them: 'They were kids in a primary school just like you. So you don't know where you will end up. If you work hard and believe in yourself nothing is impossible. Try hard, work hard and enjoy yourself'."

St John's Primary is being rebuilt on its current site with pupils expected to move in after the summer holidays.

When the new building was being planned staff and pupils decided that instead of numbering their classrooms they would like to name them.

After a competition it was decided the three classes should be named after Scottish Olympic gold medallists: Andy Murray, Glasgow-born rower Katherine Grainger and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.

As well as offering tennis lessons, Judy visited the school to represent Andy and to see his classroom.

Encouraging children at the earliest age to be active can have life-long health benefits, according to Judy.

That matches perfectly the thinking behind the Evening Times Active 2014 campaign.

She said: "We are in an age where with this generation of children research shows they are likely to live five years fewer than any other generation because of physical inactivity,.

"If physical inactivity was considered to be a disease then we would have an inoculation against it and would be doing something about it.

"We have to give kids opportunities to be able to play, but give them things they will enjoy doing."

She believes more needs to be done to improve facilities at a time when awareness of tennis is so high.

A lot of public courts are in disrepair.

"We still have a lot of towns and villages that don't have tennis courts," she said.

"I think that is why days like today are important, where the team from Tennis Scotland and coaches from the local clubs come and show the teachers how they can deliver a fun tennis session in the playground using the things you have.

"I would like to see us have a lot more public courts to let people try and really build the game. We have a role model now and the kids want to try it."

Evening Times Active 2014 aims to improve the health of Scots in the year of the Commonwealth Games and build a lasting legacy of physical wellbeing.

Working with partners Glasgow Life, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and SportScotland we will be creating opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses to get active as we try to improve the health of as many people as possible.

The message is that even the smallest of changes in activity and lifestyle can make a big improvement in health.

angela.mcmanus@eveningtimes.co.uk

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon