IT’S a group which has only been running in Eastbourne since 2017.
But in those four years Defiant Sports has made a massive difference to the lives of local people with ‘a barrier to participation.’
They may have a physical or mental disability, long term health condition or mental health issues. Ages range from 3 to 87.
It has won two awards in the past two months, which MD Loretta Lock describes as ‘amazing and outstanding.’
But she’s already planning her next steps to support those who use the CIC, based at the former Blockbusters site on the Sovereign Harbour Retail Park.
Loretta recalls: “We started up as a volunteer-based group back in 2014 when my son Callum wanted to play tennis but there were was nothing available for him and other smiliar young disabled people.
“Then we started working with Eastbourne Blind Society, running its group for visually impaired people.
“By 2017 there was so much demand that I realised we had to do something. I left my job at the MS Society in Eastbourne and set up a formal structure for Defiant Sports.
“We secured our premises last year. It wasn’t fair to ask everyone to play in various halls we were able to hire.
“I felt they were constantly compromising and they weren’t in the right environment.”
Defiant Sports attracts around 60 people and there is a small charge for classes, which include tennis, football, boccia, athletics and curling. (which ones have I missed out)
The group works with charities such as Mencap and two nursing homes. (are there more you want to add in here)
Loretta said: “We work with people who want to be active, and we give them the opportunity to do so.
“Sport is a tool which can boost an individual’s confidence and wellbeing.
“Being active can improve one’s physical and mental health, and it gives them a chance to socialise without realising that’s what they are doing.
“During Lockdown we have continued sessions online.
“My belief is that we are helping people come back into society.£
Defiant Sports was named winner of the first ever Inclusion and Diversity category at the Active Sussex 2020 awards in December.
In January, it was named the Best Disability Club in Sussex at the annual Lawn Tennis Association Awards, and now has the chance of national recognition when the LTA stages its countrywide awards.
Loretta has big plans ahead.
She said: “We constantly check what we are doing and that we meet the demands of what6 our people want.
“Along with others, we are working on a fully accessible beach for Eastbourne, a Festival of Accessible Sport in the town this summer, and eventually I would love to see a fully accessible sports stadium in Sussex.”
Three big objectives, and Loretta is determined to succeed.
To find out more about Defiant Sports go to Welcome to Defiant Sports – Connecting Through Sport