Image Credits: @SO Bharat
SO Bharat conducts training session to introduce tennis for the first time
Special Olympics Bharat held a tennis training webinar on 7th and 8th September 2020, opening a new chapter for the organization and adding tennis to its varied portfolio of sports in India. The nation-wide training focused on 55 coaches from 22 states of India and was led by Ms. Teresa Leitao, Director Sports & Unified Sports Special Olympics Brazil. The informative webinar touched topics around the level of skills, type of court, divisions, scoring, and the modified rules to fit it into the ‘Unified’ sports module.
Mr. Victor R Vaz, National Sports Director SO Bharat along with Mr. Coen Van Putten, Regional Manager Sports, Special Olympics Asia Pacific, collaborated to introduce the sport in India with an objective of preparing an Indian tennis team to debut at the Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Germany in 2023.
Ms. Leitao has been organizing tennis events for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Latin America and many other countries, since 2008, also having organized tennis tournaments at the SO World Summer Games held in 2011, 2015 and 2019. In the words of Ms Leitao, “Tennis applies to Special Athletes across all different conditions. They all can serve, play, volley etc. It all depends on how they are trained. The communication to the Athletes must be very clear and consistent”.
After the completion of this two-part training programme, the coaches will attend internal sessions organised by SO Bharat to familiarise them with the rules and regulations of the sport. They would then assume responsibility for introducing the sport in their respective states by identifying and training more coaches, and scouting for suitable athletes. The coaches would be assisted by the various Area Directors of SO Bharat to make it a success on the local level.
Highlighting the importance of this milestone, Air Marshal Keelor, Founder & CEO, SO Bharat said, “ It is always a significant moment when a new sport is added. It opens doors for new talent and grants us an opportunity to expand our reach to more Athletes and Coaches. The presentation was beautifully articulated incorporating some very simple guidance into the technical aspects of tennis that would eventually make the sport very easy to grasp.”
Mr. Coen Van Putten, Regional Manager Sports, Special Olympics Asia Pacific talked about future plans for the sport in the country, “Tennis is not a big sport in the Asia Pacific region. However, SO Bharat has expressed interest in building inclusive tennis as part of their sports portfolio. At this stage, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are looking at a rather focused approach; that would eventually percolate to a wider outreach. With close to 1.8 million athletes, an extensive and quality sports infrastructure, a skilled workforce and a strong partnership network, I believe that SO Bharat has great potential to develop and grow inclusive tennis programming.”