New sporting opportunities on the way

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Councillor Tutt with Loretta and her sons Callum (left) and Joel (right)
Pictured above: Councillor Tutt with Loretta and her sons Callum (left) and Joel (right)

Sporting opportunities for less able youngsters have had a funding boost, thanks to St Anthony’s ward councillors.

Loretta Lock, founder of Defiant Sports, approached Councillors David Tutt, Rebecca Whippy and Helen Burton for a £250 grant through the devolved budget, a pot of money set aside for community causes.

Loretta’s 22-year-old tennis-loving son Callum is disabled and there were limited opportunities for him to play the sport with people of a similar level. After several years of fighting to support Callum to find a suitable place in the sporting community, the dedicated mum of four created Defiant Sports.

She said: “Affected by autism, cerebral palsy and impaired vision, Callum just wanted to play tennis. We eventually found tennis for the visually impaired and he excelled in an environment where he could play with others who also had a barrier to taking part. His self-esteem soared, he became happy and confident and within six months he was a national champion.”

Through Defiant Sports, Loretta and her team now offer sessions six days a week, including football for adults with disabilities, boccia and seated sports, and tennis for the visually impaired.

The activities are held outside, which means the weather frequently stops play. However, Loretta’s latest mission is to create an indoor Defiant Sports Inclusion Hub at The Crumbles Retail Park in the old Blockbuster unit. The hub will be open every weekday and disabled people will be invited to take part in a range of activities, or just pop in for a cup of tea and a chat.

Councillor Tutt went to meet Loretta at the new hub to hear her plans for it. He said: “I think what Loretta is trying to do through Defiant Sports is fantastic as it’s giving equal sporting opportunities to everyone. The inclusion hub will be a first for Eastbourne and it’s great that our changeable weather won’t interrupt play. I look forward to visiting the hub again when it’s up and running in the New Year.”

Loretta said: “I’m grateful for the councillors’ support as it allowed us to start the football club at Seaside Recreation Ground. I was pleased to meet Councillor Tutt to tell him about our exciting plans for the hub as it was just a shell when we took it on. He has offered to help us further as we need to raise £2,000 for equipment, and we have a crowd funding page set up for this.”

For more information, please visit www.defiantsports.org.uk

Published on 18 December, 2019