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Maurice Gleeson OAM has been appointed President of the International Blind Tennis Association (IBTA). This prestigious role is responsible for leading a consortium of more than 17 countries, with the aim of developing and increasing participation in blind tennis worldwide.
Maurice’s two-year appointment as President of IBTA recognises his commitment and dedication to ensuring the game of blind tennis continues to grow on the worldwide stage. Maurice is naturally thrilled. He said: “I am very excited that, after years of advocating for blind tennis programs to become mainstream in Australia, we are now leading the sport at an international level. Blind tennis is continuing to gain momentum and awareness, not only in Australia but across the world – this can only be a good thing for blind sports generally.”
“I see this as a clear opportunity to create stronger bilateral links between the 17+ member countries, while also working towards ensuring blind tennis becomes an official Paralympic sport in the future. A large part of the role will involve encouraging the participating countries to share their knowledge, experience and skills and work together co-operatively to develop the sport”.
Over the past three years, Australia has competed at an international level at Tournaments in Spain and Ireland, where more than 80 players from 15 countries competed. Last year, Australia was able to bring home both a Gold and Bronze medal from the Spain Tournament, leading to a World Ranking of 1st in Men’s B4 and 3rd in Men’s B2 categories. Maurice, who has been President of Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria for almost 30 years, was instrumental in starting blind tennis in Melbourne more than 10 years ago, with VicHealth, Tennis Victoria and Tennis Seniors Victoria’s support. The program has grown in Australia during that time and is now played in many states.
Tennis for people who are blind and vision impaired was invented in Japan in 1984 by Miyoshi Takei, a blind Japanese high school student. Players use an audible ball containing a bell to determine direction.
Quotes from others regarding Maurice Gleeson’s OAM IBTA appointment:
“I was delighted to hear the news of Maurice Gleeson's appointment and send my warmest congratulations. The appointment is an outstanding achievement and recognises the leadership qualities of Maurice, who is supported by a great team at Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria. The opportunities provided for blind and vision impaired athletes and all members of the organisation are impressive and this now places our blind tennis members on the international stage”.
John Landy AC, CVO, MBE – Prior Governor of Victoria and Olympic athlete and Co-patron of Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria
“I am genuinely so excited for Maurice’s new appointment. It has been a genuine honour knowing this man just for a short time and how he has used his life to help the lives of so many others. I think the thing I love about him most the sense of humour he brings to everything he does. Congratulations Maurice”.
ABC TV’s Charlie Pickering, Comedian – Co-patron of Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria
“Huge congratulations on your recent appointment as President of the International Blind Tennis Association. Thanks to your support and guidance as President and CEO of Blind Sport and Recreation Victoria, Blind and Low Vision Tennis within Victoria has developed from a ‘Come and Try Day’ over 10 years ago, to a complete performance pathway including an all-Victorian team at the first International Blind Tennis Tournament.
Victoria has led the way in Blind and Low Vision tennis, and now the rest of Australia is learning and benefiting from the amazing success of programs within our state. It is wonderful to see that your passion and knowledge will now have international impact through the IBTA.
Your appointment is, in part, an acknowledgment of your dedication and achievements for tennis across Victoria. We look forward to continuing that work with you and continuing our strong partnership with Blind Sport and Recreation Victoria.
Congratulations again, all of us at Tennis Victoria wish you every success with IBTA”.
Dr Ruth Holdaway MBE, Chief Executive Officer Tennis Victoria
"I was thrilled to be advised that Maurice has been appointed President of the International Blind Tennis Association. It is wonderful news and a fitting testament to Maurice, who has devoted his life to the promotion of tennis and blind sports in general for people who are blind or vision impaired. I wish Maurice every success in his new role and know that he will make a significant contribution to the International Blind Tennis Association. We are all very proud of Maurice and congratulate him on this prestigious appointment."
Dr Janet Young, former professional tennis player
“Congratulations, I am extremely proud of you. You have walked onto the International Blind Tennis world stage and I am applauding you. There is a huge crowd of friends, family and acquaintances cheering you on from court-side. I know that you spent a lot of time carefully considering your role to become President of the International Blind Tennis Association and with tremendous courage accepted the position. I also know that you will not be on your own. You have such wonderful dedicated support. These people will walk the journey with you. Your commitment, determination and rich lifetime experiences will be such an enormous asset. You will help build a wonderful foundation for tennis to progress into the future.
I am proud to be an Australian and to have a brother who is prepared to give his precious time and energy to the sporting and recreational lives of so many people. Wishing you and those assisting you all the very best”.
Nicholas Gleeson, winner of the Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure Award 2019, having scaled Mt Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp and the Simpson Desert on foot