Hundreds of kids are to miss out on tennis lessons after Dundee City Council banned group coaching sessions from local courts.
Despite national guidance stating group outdoor exercise for children is permitted, coach Hayley Donnelly has been told her classes must be cancelled and only one-to-one sessions can be held.
Hayley, who runs Racquet Buddies from the tennis courts at Fairmuir and Dawson parks, has had to cancel coaching sessions for 230 primary and pre-school children because she was teaching 20 youngsters at a time, which the council said was too many.
Hayley arranged outdoor classes earlier this month, in line with national guidance which states “organised outdoor activities can continue where it is safe to do so”.
Non-contact sport is allowed outdoors for up to 30 children, under the Scottish Government rules.
But she later received an email from Dundee City Council telling her that the classes can no longer go ahead because of the numbers involved.
She said: “I was told that because of Covid-19 regulations I couldn’t have group tennis coaching sessions. I also believe admin issues have played a part in the decision.
“They told me I would only be allowed to hold one to one coaching sessions.
“I have 230 kids signed up and have three coaches – how are we supposed to arrange that?
“This is really upsetting for everyone. All the kids and their parents are very disappointed.
“I’m angry and frustrated, pretty gutted really.
“We are doing everything possible to abide by all the regulations regarding social distancing etc but still they have told us we can’t continue.”
‘Red tape gone mad’
Hayley pointed out there are fewer children in her outdoor sessions than sharing a classroom indoors at school.
“I honestly think this is red tape gone mad,” she said.
“These classes are so popular and give kids and their parents a chance to exercise and socialise safely.
“We know that young children are suffering mental health issues because of lockdown and this seemed like an ideal way for them to get out and about safely.”
It is not the first time Hayley has been forced to cancel classes.
Last November she had to abandon classes for toddlers at Menzieshill Community Centre because parents were throwing balloons for their children to hit, which Leisure and Culture Dundee classed as an “adult sport”.
Local private tennis clubs have offered Hayley the use of their courts but she said that would involve more money as the clubs would need some payment and would mean sharing court time with club members.
“Football matches can go ahead so it doesn’t seem to be a level playing field at all,” Hayley added.
“I’m prepared to try to make this work by having staggered starts.
“I hope that we can come to some arrangement so that we can continue.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “The city council is talking to businesses who are requesting the use of council tennis courts for their group coaching sessions.
“While the council is fully supportive of promoting tennis, we shall be discussing a number of issues including appropriate Covid-19 safety measures.”