19 Apr 2013

Wheelchair tennis in SportAccord Award nominations

News Article

Children using low compression balls at a wheelchair tennis clinic in Elansdoorn

Watch a video of the Johan Cruyff Foundation's visit to South Africa with Esther Vergeer to celebrate 10 years of the Cruyff Foundation's involvment with the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund

The Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund (WTDF) is one of six projects in the shortlist of nominees announced on Thursday 18 April for the SportAccord Spirit of Sport Awards 2013.

The Spirit of Sport Awards 2013 will be presented to the Laureates during the 11th annual SportAccord Convention in Saint Petersburg, Russia on 29 May.

The International Tennis Federation is among 107 international sports federations and organisations who are members of SportsAccord, each with a committment to using sport as a tool to create change and improve the situation of communities around the world.

The WTDF is the only one of the six international projects shortlisted for the SportAccord Spirit of Sport Awards 2013 to come under the theme of Persons with Disabilities. From the six projects shortlisted, three will be selected for the awards ceremony in May.

The WTDF aims to establish long-lasting wheelchair tennis programmes, providing disabled children and adults with opportunities to enjoy and active and rewarding life. The programmes all help to grow wheelchair tennis predominately in developing nations where the disabled population is often excluded or segregated from society.

Through the WTDF the ITF works with specific countries over a two-year period, sending out different ITF experts and player ambassadors to these countries and providing equipment for their respective programmes. The ITF representatives hold clinics, meet with local partners, set up development plans and talk to the media.

Programmes are always run with the national associations so that after the two year period programmes can be self-sustainable and continue running and be part of the ITF’s developmental work. Partnerships are developed between different relevant local and national organisations or associations and international with the ITF and the main WTDF programme partner the Johan Cruyff Foundation.

By 2012 35 projects had been initiated in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Colombia and Bolivia. Projects are still continuing to grow in these countries today, with increased participation and activity. Eleven of the 35 countries in which WTDF projects had initiated by December 2012 had representatives who competed in the Paralympic Tennis Event at London 2012.

Integration between disabled and able-bodied participants is at the heart of all the projects, while women and children are of particular importance to the WTDF. The ITF tries to ensure that in all activity at least 25 per cent of participants are female.

SportAccord is the umbrella organisation for 107 international sports federations and organisations.

Its mission is to unite and support the common interests of the sports movement.

Activities include the organisation of multi-sports games (SportAccord World Combat Games, World Beach Games, World Artistic Games, World Mind Games, World Urban Games); doping-free sport; sports’ social/environmental responsibility and sports’ integrity; the International Federations recognition process; the Online Community platform, the World Sport Index, the online video portal The Sports Hub as well as several other strategic initiatives, all developed and implemented on behalf, and to the benefit, of SportAccord’s members.