Photo: Suzie Dyrbus, ITFBrazil Agitos Foundation
The ITF in partnership with the Agitos Foundation began its project to promote women and quads wheelchair tennis in Central and South America in February. Sarah Hunter and Suzie Dyrbus visited the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo regions of Brazil last month to begin the activity.
Both regions are relatively new projects within Brazil with large amounts of potential. First stop was Niteroi, just outside of Rio de Janeiro, where the day was spent at the ANDEF rehabilitation centre. Meetings were held with the directors of the centre, along with the programme staff and co-ordinators, highlighting the numerous benefits of being involved in wheelchair tennis and information regarding the programme.
This was followed by a clinic for players, all of whom were Juniors. Some of these players were involved in the programme while others had come to try wheelchair tennis for the first time. There was a huge desire to learn, and great fun was had by everyone. A particular highlight was the addition of a female quad player, who came and tried the sport for the first time. This region up to now has had no quad player development programme and, as early as day one, potential new players were being exposed to the sport.
Another rehabilitation centre (AFR), which 1200 people pass through, was visited the next morning before a clinic was held at the local tennis club in the afternoon. Some of the players from the previous day also came and joined in after being inspired by the previous days, and once more we had the new addition of another quad player who Sarah encouraged to play after being hesitant at first.
This also allowed the coaches involved in the running of the project to observe and take notes on different taping techniques. The final day in the region saw a demonstration near the 'disabled access' part of the beach, with many interested people observing and asking questions.
In Sao Paulo activity started with a presentation alongside the Brazilian National Paralympic Committee and representatives from the Sao Caetano de Sol Mayor’s office. Tennis coaches, players and physical activity co-ordinators were all present. This was followed by a coach education clinic. Coaches were taken through a range of different mobility, tactical and technical points alongside key issues to be aware of when working with quad players.
The next morning was spent at a local school, where no fewer than six potentially new quad players took part in a taster session alongside other wheelchair players. This was followed by a players clinic in the afternoon. Activity concluded with a visit to the mayor’s office and a demonstration in a nearby park.
This provided a unique opportunity to promote women players and quads in the region, with large numbers of both divisions being exposed to the sport.