From Classrooms to Courts: Primary Teacher Secures First ‘Racquet Buddies’ Franchise

A Perthshire primary school teacher has become the first franchisee of a kids’ racquet sports business.

Linda Johnstone (40) from Inchture has secured the Perth and North Perthshire franchise of Racquet Buddies following a 13-year career in primary school teaching from nursery through to primary seven.

Having confirmed Inchture Village Hall as a venue, Linda, an avid runner, will also launch classes in Perth, Blairgowrie, Scone and the Carse of Gowrie from August 2021 onwards.

Hayley welcoming Linda into the business.

Racquet Buddies offers classes for two to five and five to 12-year-olds, with toddlers learning transferable racquet skills that can be used in tennis and badminton, developing their motor skills, coordination, listening and social skills. Primary schoolers go on to learn about specific strokes, techniques and tactics for playing in a competitive game situation.

The seeds of Racquet Buddies were sewn when Hayley Donnelly (37), also a former primary school teacher who represented Scotland in badminton at senior level, was teaching part-time in 2013.   Launching her first class for just 10 children, Racquet Buddies now offers 17 toddler and primary classes for over 200 children across the Dundee area with new classes also starting in Angus, Fife and Edinburgh in August.

Now seeking her next franchisee, Hayley hopes to recruit 1,000 ‘racquet buddies’ across Scotland by the end of 2023.

Hayley believes Linda is a brilliant addition to the team – “When we launched our franchising model, we were looking to identify people who not only have a passion for sport and healthy living but who enjoy working with children.  With 13 years of experience working with children from nursery right through to primary seven, Linda is the perfect fit. She loves working with children, seeing them achieve and having fun – the perfect skillset and an approach which underpins all Racquet Buddies’ values.”

Racquet Buddies

Linda added, “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Racquet Buddies and can’t wait to get started.  For me, it’s a fresh challenge and an opportunity to channel my experience, skills and enthusiasm into a new career. As a mum-of-two and former teacher, I’ve experienced lots of activity classes and, from my daughter’s own experience taking part, could quickly see why Racquet Buddies were different. Many kids’ exercise classes are rather formulaic, but Hayley has designed a varied, stimulating, and engaging programme.  From a personal perspective, the franchise will  free up some more family time and present me with the ideal opportunity to give back to the local community and really invest in the health of the younger generation, something I’m passionate about.”

Hayley added, “Our classes do much more than teach practical skills. Younger children develop their listening, coordination and motor skills, number recognition and colour matching and, of course, the classes work wonders for their confidence, concentration and social skills. Their parents, grandparents and carers also gain hugely from coming along, seeing the children play, learn and develop, and just being part of something. Of course, regardless of the child’s age, it’s also about fun, fitness and making friends, contributing massively to the child’s physical and mental health and wellbeing and hopefully shaping lifelong habits.”

Franchisees benefit from ongoing support, scope to work across Scotland, comprehensive and detailed lesson plan packs and games manuals.

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Having represented Scotland in badminton in under 15, under 17, under 19 and under 21 categories, Hayley Donnelly played against various different countries, was capped in ladies’ doubles at senior level, and coached children from the age of 17.   She then graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Primary Education in 2007 and worked as a primary teacher in Dundee until summer 2019.

Following the birth of her first son in 2010, Hayley spotted a gap in the market when it came to racquet sports classes so decided to start her own, launching a pilot class in Birkhill in 2013.

While continuing to work as a teacher, Hayley’s passion to set up her own business grew and, in February 2019, she completed the former Coca-Cola 5by20 Dundee programme (now Women’s Business Station) which provided her with the necessary business skills to turn her dream into a reality.  She left the teaching profession to work on Racquet Buddies full-time in Summer 2019.