The ITF announced that it has renewed its sponsorship agreements with the Johan Cruyff Foundation as a program partner for the Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund and ITF’s wheelchair tennis junior programs. The Foundation will support additional Silver Fund projects for 2012-13, as well as the junior programs for 2012.
The Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund was set up in 2002 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wheelchair tennis. The Fund aims to establish sustainable wheelchair tennis programs in developing nations through the provision of tennis equipment and technical expertise and the identification of local partners who will take the program to self-supporting levels.
The Johan Cruyff Foundation began financing the Silver Fund in 2003 and celebrates 10 years of involvement this year. The new agreement will help develop additional projects in Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico and West Africa in 2012-13. Ten countries competing at the 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event in London have been supported by the Silver Fund, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe.
Since 2005, the Foundation has also supported wheelchair tennis training and competitive opportunities for juniors. Junior program activities include international and national camps, the Junior Masters at Les Petits As in France, Junior World Team Cup and the successful Cruyff Foundation International Junior Ranking. Current ITF world champions Esther Vergeer and Maikel Scheffers of Netherlands and defending Paralympic champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan are among the players to have benefited from the ITF’s junior programs.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Johan Cruyff Foundation, which has been a loyal and hardworking partner of the ITF’s wheelchair tennis activities. The commitment of our sponsors has helped wheelchair tennis to become one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports with 30 nations represented at this year’s Paralympic Tennis Event.”
Carole Thate, Director of the Johan Cruyff Foundation, said: “We have worked closely with the ITF for 10 years to introduce wheelchair tennis to children in developing countries through the junior programs and Silver Fund. We have already reached many juniors but our work is not yet finished. That is why we have again extended our relationship with the ITF to create more opportunities for many more children.”
About Johan Cruyff Foundation
The Johan Cruyff Foundation was established in 1997 by European soccer player Johan Cruyff. The Foundation supports and stimulates play and sport for children worldwide, with a special focus on sports programs for children with a disability. The Foundation supports a wide variety of sports projects from street soccer to sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball to swimming.