Omaima, a 14-year-old third-year ESO student, loves racket sports. Not only does he like them, he is good at them, he explains. But he hasn’t had many opportunities to practice them. Now he plays tennis for the first time in the last six years. Blow by blow, he has fun and socializes. “Training is a good way to disconnect from your studies and you also meet people from other centers,” argues from the Pablo Ruiz Picasso institute, in the Torre Baró neighborhood of Barcelona.
Every Wednesday, the courtyard of this center becomes a tennis learning and training court for children and young people served by Cáritas Barcelona. There is an atmosphere of energy and illusion. There is desire. “They show good behavior. And they are interested because it is a sport that most have never done. Normally they have not left football, “says Tamara Ortiz. This social integrator from a Cáritas casal affirms that the activity has all the benefits of sports practice associated with it, develops an interest in learning a new thing and fosters a space for collaboration and socialization.
For the second year, the Fundació Tennis Barcelona and Cáritas Diocesana de Barcelona have joined forces to carry out the Tennis amb Valors program, in which 42 minors from the Barceloneta and Torre Baró neighborhoods participate. Both entities have agreed on the importance of collaborating in favor of the most vulnerable children in the city and organize a weekly session of solidarity tennis as well as a healthy snack. RC Tennis Barcelona provides the equipment and monitors.
The club has collaborated with Cáritas since 2009, organizing courses, sports stays for children and adults, extracurricular activities, summer camps or participating in food collection campaigns. Last year Tennis Barcelona took another step forward and decided to get involved in the organization of the tennis program for the children of the Cáritas open centers.
Jordi Cambra: “We want to bring together the values of this sport: commitment, perseverance, work”
The first edition featured ten children from the Cáritas de la Barceloneta open center, and the fact that this year participation has quadrupled shows that the initiative is a winning coup. “With the Tennis amb Valors program we want to bring together the values of this sport: respect, commitment, perseverance and teamwork. In addition, we carry out an activity in the neighborhoods where these children and young people live, which allows them to get closer to a sport that, most likely, would not be within their reach ”, explained Jordi Cambra, president of the Barcelona Tennis Foundation.
Children and young people represent 41% of the total number of people served by Càritas in Barcelona throughout 2020. “This is one of the groups that has suffered the most from the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, and we believe that a special attention ”, indicates the director of the entity, Salvador Busquets. According to their data, 25% of the households with minors who have been treated saw that their children had more difficulties to finish the course due to the pandemic. “This highlights the importance of extracurricular activities so that children and young people can develop different physical, intellectual and emotional capacities, and that this helps them overcome the elements that hinder real equal opportunities.”
Jordi Cambra underlines the health benefits of practicing sport and, above all, its integration role. Specifically, the specialists attribute to tennis, in addition to fun in the initial stages of practice, a great power of socialization. It is a sport that favors the development of their motor skills and coordination, strengthens and tones children’s muscles, stimulates aerobic capacity, speed, agility and reflexes, and develops discipline, in addition to reinforcing the value of work and effort.
The Tennis amb Valors program is carried out with the sponsorship of Endesa and with contributions from Cacaolat and the insurance company Ferrer & Ojeda, which covers the costs of the technical equipment required to carry out the activity.