London, June 05, 2013: The ITF announced today that it has renewed its sponsorship agreements with the Johan Cruyff Foundation as a programme partner for the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund and ITF’s wheelchair tennis junior programmes. The Foundation will support additional Development Fund projects for 2013-14, as well as the junior programmes for 2013.
The Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund was set up in 2002 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wheelchair tennis. The Development Fund, previously known as the Silver Fund, aims to establish sustainable wheelchair tennis programmes in developing nations through the provision of tennis equipment and technical expertise and the identification of local partners who will take the programme to self-supporting levels.
The Johan Cruyff Foundation began financing the Development Fund in 2003, since when Fund has supported wheelchair programmes in over 40 countries. The new agreement for 2013-14 will help develop additional projects in Cameroon, Cuba, Estonia, Mauritius and Yemen.
Since 2005, the Foundation has also supported wheelchair tennis training and competitive opportunities for juniors. Junior programme 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. Thirteen-time ITF world champion Esther Vergeer of Netherlands and Paralympic champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan are among the players to have benefitted from the ITF’s junior programmes.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “The continued support of the Johan Cruyff Foundation has played an important part in wheelchair tennis becoming one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports with 30 nations represented at the London 2012 Games. They are a loyal and hardworking partner of our activities and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Carole Thate, director of the Johan Cruyff Foundation, said: “We are proud of the collaboration with the ITF. With our collaboration we are able to give children all over the world the opportunity to experience the importance of sports. Through sports people build their self-confidence, build a place in society and see what is possible instead of what is not possible.”
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 programmes 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. —- ITF/Photo: Mathilde Duso