A famous Italian song begins with a phrase that has now become part of the collective imagination: “In the Black Continent, at the foot of Kilimanjaro.” We do not know if Edoardo Vianello has ever been there, but Tennis World Foundation has, as they have extended their philanthropic efforts to this charming corner of Africa in the north east of Tanzania, not too far from the Kenyan border. To be more precise, Federico Coppini’s Foundation has started working in Arusha, a stone's throw from the Arusha National Park and not too far from the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.
In this quiet region there is an elementary school, which was founded in 1975 and is managed by Amani Palangyo Epaphras. He has embraced the Tennis World Foundation, excited by its initiatives which have already seen tremendous results in South Africa.
Coppini, an Italian transplanted to Africa and in love with the continent, has finally fulfilled his dream of expanding into a new nation, and believes Arusha is the ideal place to start.
It’s a very large school, with over 900 children (477 girls and 468 boys). Of these, 140 are involved in the very first Tennis World Foundation project.
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The financial resources needed to pay the teachers and subsidize transport is already in place, as are funds to supply t-shirts, caps, rackets and nets. Balls have already arrived in Arusha (not those used by adults, but ones suitable for children under the age of 10).
The initial phase of the project involves third grade children and will last three months. Of course, it does not end here: 24 (or 32) children will be selected to continue for the next six months, playing tennis in the afternoons and giving a more competitive spirit to their activity. The dream – also supported by Epaphras – is to train a tennis professional.
Dreaming is beautiful, but it is equally important to have concrete objectives. Coppini’s dreams were born in Kayamandi, a poor district of Stellenbosch in South Africa. A player and coach himself, he soon found success in his endeavours with the young children, and wanted to expand his activities. He realized that playing tennis made them happy and that he could have a positive influence in their lives.
What initially was a hobby in his free time quickly turned into a massive commitment with his foundation. He aims to help children grow emotionally, physically and mentally, and believes that tennis is a wonderful tool to achieve these goals.
“I realized that tennis gives me a wonderful feeling, it makes me grow and I like to belong to a community. And I discovered these are the same reasons why children love being part of it.”
With tennis, kids grow up in a safe space and are led by adults who can guide them in a positive way. They will therefore not risk running into gangs or other troublemakers, as so often happens for youngsters in tough circumstances. The Tennis World Foundation has been met with great enthusiasm by all the schools and organizations with which it plans to work.
The project has started, but now the time has come to expand it. With its resources, TWF helps around 600 children, but the goal is to multiply them quickly. For this reason it is important to obtain any kind of support for a project of high human value and (crucial) very transparent. For this reason, an initiative has been launched at no cost to anyone, but fundamental for the Tennis World Foundation: the instructions to join the initiative (very simple) can be found at www.tabtennisfoundation.org: in a nutshell, installing the app, every time you open a tab in your browser you provide a contribution (totally at no cost) for Tennis World Foundation and its exciting initiatives.
In Africa, on the other hand, there is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Right now, TWF is turning to the immense tennis "village" to wrest many children from poverty and contribute to the development of strong and happy human beings.
“No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.”