Dog show wins crowd at Wimbledon fair.


Wimbledon Village Fair a hit for all the family

By Hannah Scott

Wimbledon’s four-legged flyball team entertained the crowd at Wimbledon Village Fair on Saturday in support of local charity the Wimbledon Guild.

The dogs, which will compete at the European Flyball Championships in Belgium next week, raced over jumps to retrieve tennis balls to the delight of fair-goers.

Rachel Brown, who joined the Wimbledon Whizzers two years ago, said: “The dogs absolutely love coming to the fair. They seem to know when they get nearby as they all start woofing in the cars.

“It promotes good dog ownership as well and shows you that you don’t have to have a collie in order to compete in games.”

The team, which came second in their division at the Championships last year, welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Ms Brown says top flyball teams include all breeds as little dogs mean lower jumps so they can all race faster.

“The dogs are doing everything themselves so you also need a little bit of spirit and uncontrollability,” added Ms Brown.

Young tennis players from the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative were also demonstrating their ball skills prior to the Wimbledon Championships this week.

The initiative is run by the fair’s main sponsor The All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club and offers a full day of tennis coaching for every school in Merton and Wandsworth.

Six of the most promising children from each school are then invited to play at the club on a free scholarship.

“The programme is a way of the club being involved in the community that it lives in,” said Head Coach Dan Bloxham.

“If the coaching is done well and with enthusiasm, the children will join in.

“It is important to create enough opportunities for the schools to do that.”

The children will perform on Court 14 on Saturday and on the Men’s Finals Day of the Championship.

They were the only people given a tour of the club and the opportunity to watch the players practise last weekend.

Mr Bloxham said: “The children are getting the real VIP treatment which is fantastic as obviously they play there all the time but don’t get to see it when it is revved up for the tournament.”

The fair is the main annual fundraiser for the Wimbledon Guild, which provides valuable community services including activity centres for the elderly, counselling, and distribution of small cash grants and donated goods.

“We are delighted to be a part of such a strong community event,” said Sarah Bandurka from the charity.

“It is a good opportunity for us to bring everybody together and we are delighted that the fair can play that role.”

Other events at the fair included a horse and dog show, human table football, sumo wrestling, rodeo rides and 200 stalls including a farmers’ market.

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