December 4, 2015


Japanese NPO Proposes New Sport for All; Barrier-Free-Tennis

Keywords: Diversity NGO / Citizen 

Copyright BLACKSOX All Rights Reserved.

BLACKSOX, a non-profit organization in Japan, has proposed a new sport, "Barrier-Free-Tennis," and is now promoting it. Barrier-Free-Tennis is a sport originally designed to be enjoyed together by a wide range of people, including the elderly and those with physical disabilities. Under its slogan "Communication x Tennis = Smile," the organization actively works on promoting the Barrier-Free-Tennis.

Koutaro Nishino, the administrative director of BLACKSOX, established the organization in 1999 with his friends. As a professional tennis player, he has enjoyed playing tennis since early childhood. Throughout his career as a tennis player, he recognized how happy playing tennis made him feel, and he wanted to share this joy with other people around him. He also wanted to offer all people the chance to play and enjoy tennis. He therefore aimed to create an original sport derived from tennis.

Barrier-Free-Tennis was created in this way. "Barrier-Free" refers to the fact that various people, including those with disabilities, those of advanced age, or those speaking different languages, can enjoy tennis together. BLACKSOX, the name of the organization, refers to the notion that every individual in any condition can enjoy this sport to the point that his/her white sox will become blackened.

In the Barrier-Free-Tennis, players attempt to continue rallying with their opponents, while players in standard tennis focus on hitting the ball to a point where the opponent cannot easily return it. In addition, in Barrier-Free-Tennis, players use a sponge ball, which does not travel at high speed, using a racquet that is light and easy to handle. As a result, anyone in any condition can enjoy the game. Moreover, it can be played smaller spaces thanks to its lower net and it has simple rules.

In order to expand its activities since 2010, BLACKSOX launched the project "Connecting People through Tennis Rallies" and evolved its Barrier-Free-Tennis into the "Challenge Tennis" program to guide all participants into challenging new activities, in addition to playing tennis, regardless of physical disability or tennis experiences.

The project has three missions.

  • Encourage everyone to be more active, relate to others and be happy through tennis
  • Raise children who are good tennis players with tough bodies and kind hearts
  • Offer activities to improve social involvement and quality of life as a sustainable social organization

The project primarily organizes training sessions and an annual grand tournament.

Through the "Challenge Tennis" program, BLACKSOX offers three manuals: 1) a manual on playing Barrier-Free-Tennis, allowing those without sports experience, and those with disabilities or children who haven't played tennis before to enjoy it safely and easily; 2) a volunteer manual for those who haven't played tennis or other sports, allowing them to guide children, even if they have no experience playing tennis; 3) an operation manual, allowing anyone to get involved with the activities. In this way, BLACKSOX has been widening its activities to include hosting study and training sessions, recruiting volunteers and offering places to play tennis.