Halifax student shares gift of sport with newcomer children

Twenty-eight Government Assisted Refugee children have the opportunity to learn how to play tennis thanks to a grade 12 student at Armbrae Academy.

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) has partnered with Armbrae Academy student Niket Sampalli, and Tennis Time founder David Greer to offer six weeks of free tennis lessons for Government Assisted Refugee children aged 7 to 12, in large part thanks to Sampalli’s donation of $1,500.

Over the course of the program, the children will learn basic skills including how to hold a racket, how to serve, volley, and practice drills. At the end of the six weeks, the kids will leave with a tennis racket and set of tennis balls.

Sampalli reached out to ISANS about the initiative after receiving the John Stone Humanitarian Award from his school. He generously offered to donate the value of his award to cover most of the costs of the program as well as his time to coach the kids. Tennis Time provided a supplementary donation to cover the additional costs.

Valued at $1500, the John Stone Humanitarian Award is given to a student in Grade 7 to Grade 11 at Armbrae Academy who demonstrates humanity, empathy, ethics, respect for the dignity of others, and service to others.

An avid tennis player since the age of eight, Sampalli’s passion for the sport inspired him to get others “involved in the sport [he] loves.”

“I wanted to use this award to make an impact in the community,” said Sampalli. “Tennis is a great way to form relationships and make friends. Through this partnership, we can teach these kids how to play tennis and they will be able to take what they’ve learned back into their communities.”

When approached by Sampalli to partner for this initiative, Greer said it was a no-brainer: “My goal is to make the sport accessible. Through this partnership, I am able to help do that. Tennis is a universal language; you don’t need to speak the same language to play. All you need is a racquet, a ball, and a wall.”