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Tag Archives: Wesley O’Brien

Tennis brings hope to refugees

A KILLALOE tennis coach is serving up more free coaching sessions for underprivileged children and adults in memory of his parents in Romania from June 23 to 29. Wesley O’Brien is raising money to fund his latest overseas trip through his charity “Hit and Hope”. Mr O’Brien set up this charity to bring free tennis lessons and equipment to kids and youth affected by war and conflict. It has grown to provide tennis coaching in refugee camps, disadvantaged communities, underprivileged kids and special needs families from all over Europe. His latest venture will be done in memory of his parents who died within three weeks of each other earlier this year. Mary O’Brien, née Reddan, Crossroads, Killaloe, died on Christmas Eve, 2003 before her husband, Eddie on January 14, 2024. “I was doing these trips for a long time before my parents passed away. But these trips are particularly relevant to me now. I like to think that my parents’ …

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Clare man nets award for tennis coaching and charity work

A NATIONAL coaching body has served up a provincial award to a local coach in recognition of his club and charity work. Wesley O’Brien has been named Munster coach of the year by Tennis Coach Ireland. Wesley introduced a coaching programme in Killaloe Ballina Tennis Club, trains visually impaired people to play tennis as part of Blind Tennis and has shown hundreds of refugees in various countries how to use a racquet during his “Hit and Hope” charity trips abroad. In an interview with the Clare Champion, Wesley said this award was unexpected and hopes it will help him to secure new sponsors for his Blind Tennis initiative. While Wesley has received funding from different Sports Partnerships and Vision Sports, he believes it is not sustainable to continue to rely on these sources in the future. Recently, he travelled over to Wrexham to assist Marguerite Quinn, who competed in the United Kingdom Blind Tennis Championships against players who had more …

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Wesley serving smiles to lighten load for refugees in camps

A KILLALOE tennis coach is continuing his drive to bring a smile to the faces of refugees who are living in camps in a bid to secure a better life. Wesley O’Brien recently returned from his sixth overseas trip and his fourth “Hit and Hope” programme in a third country, which included one in Turkey, two in Greece and one in Bosnia. Having flown into Sarajevo, Wesley completed a full week of tennis classes at Usivak Refugee Camp, which is a temporary reception area for refugees fleeing from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Most of the refugees who are hoping to travel to one of the wealthier European countries such as the United Kingdom stay, on average, in the camp for a week or two. One of the distinguishing features of this camp is the exclusion of single men as its accommodates children from the age of three in families of all age groups. In total, the camp caters for …

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Tennis for Ukrainian refugees in Shannon

A TENNIS programme is being run throughout July for Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Shannon. It started last week and is being run by Wesley O’Brien, who said it came to Shannon after something similar began in Meelick a few weeks earlier. “About three weeks ago I started a similar programme at the Radisson Hotel for the families there,” Wesley told The Champion. “A lady called Siobhán Boyd reached out to me, who’s with a group in Shannon, and she asked if I’d do something for the families in Shannon so I said no problem.” He was very pleased with how it had begun. “It went very well, we had good numbers considering it was the first day. We broke it into different age groups, there were five to ten-year-olds from half two to half three, 11 to 17 from half three to half four and then 18 and over from 4.30 to 5.30pm. Considering it was the first …

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Home draw for Nadal shirt as Clare charity raffle beats target

A COVETED Rafael Nadal shirt is now a major item of interest in the Killaloe Ballina Tennis Clubhouse after two local members won this jersey in a recent online charity auction organised by a local coach. Auctioning sports memorabilia has helped Wesley O’Brien to raise €5,133, which will be split between the Access Tennis Foundation and Hit and Hope, Tennis. Signed jerseys from high profile sports stars attracted a lot of interest from sports enthusiasts at home and abroad when they were posted online recently. Tony Head from Kilkee won the Franz Beckenbauer jersey, Jaquie Curness, Surrey, England, won the Lewis Hamilton print, Stephen Monaghan from Cavan, who lives in Slovakia, was awarded the Rory McElroy golf flag, while Kathryn Dennehy from Ardnacrusha, who is a club member, got the Usain Bolt jersey. The Rafael Nadal jersey effectively stays at home in the club, however, after the names of Colleen Donnellan and Daphne Henderson came out of the hat. The …

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Stars sign for Wesley’s sports memorabilia charity auction

A KILLALOE tennis coach has netted signed jerseys from high profile international sports stars that will be auctioned to raise money for an Irish and an international charity, writes Dan Danaher. The items that will be auctioned by Wesley O’Brien include a signed Usain Bolt shirt; a signed Rafel Nadal shirt; a signed Franz Beckenbaur Bayern Munich shirt, a print of the Formula One car driven by Lewis Hamilton, which is signed by Mr Hamilton and other key figures in Mercedes; and a signed Rory McElroy golf flag. All of the jerseys are included in a special frame that has been professionally inserted. The raffle winners will also receive a certificate of authenticity with each of the jerseys. Any Irish winner will have the bonus of free postage, unlike people outside Ireland who will have to pay for the cost of receiving it by mail. The sports memorabilia were posted on idonate under the Access Foundation banner on Monday as …

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World tennis ace backs Killaloe man’s fund-raising campaign

RAFAEL Nadal is among the international sports stars supporting a Killaloe man to raise funds for a refugee camp in Greece. Tennis coach Wesley O’Brien is a regular volunteer at the Ritsona Refugee Camp, north of Athens. Two years ago, he started up a programme for residents, thanks to donations of rackets, balls and nets from clubs around the region, including his own in Killaloe-Ballina. As part of a bid to raise funds for a defibrillator for the camp, which is now home to 4000 people, Wesley has secured jerseys signed by some high profile individuals and teams. To-date, these include Nadal, the Munster Rugby Team, Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy and Franz Beckenbaur. Wesley, who volunteers with Lighthouse Relief, now hopes to be able to sell these rare items in order to generate vital funding support for refugees. “I had raised funds for a defibrillator for the Killaloe-Ballina Tennis Club, so I decided to do the same again for Ritsona …

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Ace efforts from Wesley in Greece

A KILLALOE based tennis coach, who has introduced the sport of tennis to residents of a Greek refugee camp, is urging the public to support charities like Lighthouse Relief who are helping those fleeing war torn countries. Wesley O’Brien, a coach at the Killaloe Tennis Club said while the issue may have gone off the news cycle, it is still a major international crisis that needs continued support. He said rather than sitting on a beach in Lanzarote he wanted to do more with his skills and wanted share the joy of tennis with those less fortunate. In 2018 he got in touch with a number NGOs and was directed to Lighthouse Relief, who work with refugees from Syria, Iraq and Turkey. The charity has a base on the island of Lesvos where they have a first responder team who help migrants fleeing by boat. Their second base is at the Ritsona refugee camp where they cater for more than …

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