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Spanish-Jamaican Foundation hits winner for basic schools

Published:Wednesday | May 22, 2013 | 12:00 AM
(From left) Spanish Ambassador Celsa Nuño; Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan; minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley; and Tennis Jamaica President John Bailey pose with a symbolic sponsorship cheque at Tennis Jamaica's headquarters in Kingston. - Contributed

The Spanish-JAMAICAN Foundation (SJF) has partnered with Tennis Jamaica to support close to 60 four- and five-year-old students of the Tryall Fund's 'Success by Six' schools in the parish of Hanover who have begun to learn the sport.

Some of these schools include Sandy Bay Community Basic School, Hopewell Christian Deliverance Basic School, Montpelier Basic School and Chambers Pen Basic School.

Valued at close to $650,000 annually, the programme uses the International Tennis Federation (ITF) 'Play&Stay' method, which is designed especially for young children to maximise the many benefits for this age group, which include brain development, self-esteem, hand-eye coordination, concentration, self-control and social interaction.

In 2008, the SJF established the Montego Bay-based Real Madrid Football School for Social Integration, and has a strong track record of supporting youth development through sport.

Natural progression

According to Celsa Nuño, SJF president and Spanish ambassador to Jamaica, the new partnership with Tennis Jamaica is part of a natural progression.

"Although Spain is known primarily as a football powerhouse, it is also highly respected and well recognised as a tennis destination. Two of the current top 10 players are Spanish, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, and over the years many tennis professionals have benefited from training as juniors in Spain.

"We at the SJF are committed to using sport as a vehicle for social development," Nuño said.

Tennis is one of the few sports in Jamaica with a direct pathway to higher educational opportunities. Two Tennis Jamaica youngsters from Kingston's inner-city communities - Sicquena Sinclair and Shantal Blackwood - are now on scholarship at United States universities.

President of Tennis Jamaica, John Bailey, said the board was delighted with the new partnership.

"It is in keeping with the organisation's objectives to expose young Jamaican players to higher levels of coaching and learning - both from a local and foreign perspective," Bailey said.

Established by Spanish investors with a focus on strengthening the friendship between Spain and Jamaica, the SJF has prioritised the use of sports as a vehicle for social development, primarily through its Real Madrid Football School for Social Integration.

Tennis Jamaica has emphasised extending support for tennis islandwide and to children of all ages, knowing that tennis is a sport widely used as a means of gaining tertiary-level scholarships.