Special Olympics Bharat introduces SO tennis in India
Special Olympics tennis recently made its debut in India with Special Olympics Bharat organising a tennis training webinar from September 7-8 to discuss various potential ways of collaborating the sport into the varied portfolio of sports in India.
More than 50 coaches from 22 states in India participated in the training webinar which was moderated by Teresa Leitao, Director Sports & Unified Sports Special Olympics Brazil. During the online meeting, the participants discussed various issues ranging from the level of skills and court types to modified rules of tennis with the aim of integrating the sport into the ‘Unified’ sports module.
Victor R Vaz, Special Olympics Bharat National Sports Director, and Coen Van Putten, Regional Manager Sports at Special Olympics Asia Pacific joined hands to launch SO tennis in India. Reportedly, the key agenda behind introducing SO tennis in India is to train an Indian tennis team for the Special Olympics World Summer Games scheduled to take place in Germany in 2023.
Speaking over the development, Air Marshall Denzil Keelor, Founder & CEO of Special Olympics Bharat said that it is always a path-breaking moment when a new sport is added to the event, as it opens new doors for fresh talents along with significant opportunities to reach out to more athletes and coaches and gather knowledge from their expertise.
With the completion of the tennis training webinar, the coaches are scheduled to attend specialised internal sessions organised by SO Bharat. Through these sessions, coaches will learn more about the rules and regulations of the sport, following which they will undertake the task of introducing the sport in their respective states.
Assisted by various SO Bharat Area Directors, coaches will have the responsibility of identifying and training more coaches and looking for the best athletes in order to expand the reach of the sport across the local level.
Discussing the future prospects of the SO tennis in India, Coen Van Putten, Regional Manager Sports at Special Olympics Asia Pacific asserted that while tennis has not been a bid sport in the Asia Pacific region, SO Bharat has expressed its keenness in developing the sport in the country and making it an integrated part of their sports portfolio.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted various sporting events in the country, SO Asia Pacific is seeking to expand its outreach across the region.
“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,” Van Putten said.
Earlier in August, Special Olympics Bharat founder Air Marshall Keelor had announced that India is among the six countries to receive benefits from the $25 million grant commissioned by the UAE as part of the Unified Champion School worldwide programme aimed at encouraging the participation of intellectually disabled children in sports.