Participants from the Play Tennis Course in El Salvador in action
Santa Ana is one of the most important cities in El Salvador, located 64 km. North West of San Salvador, the countries Capital. It is the city of one of El Salvador´s most iconic female sports figures, tennis player Ingrid Gonzalez. At the tennis facility named after her, the El Salvador Tennis Federation hosted a Play Tennis Course, with ITF support, from the 7 to 10 of February.
The course was attended by 17 students; one of which is a tennis coach, 11 PE teachers and 5 who are currently working with young people and children promoting sports as a prevention from entering gangs (pandillas). The course became a very enriching activity given the diversity of the people in the group.
During the 4 days of the course I learned about the 5 young teachers who work at these Christian Centers called CDI’s, supported by an international organization called Compassion International (https://www.compassion.com/about/where/elsalvador.htm). They have found the ITF JTI program in Santa Ana to be a beneficial way to teach and promote tennis with their children. They play on small patios or open flat spaces they have in churches or community houses. One of the coaches, Yanira from the city of El Congo, is already travelling to Santa Ana, about 40 minute bus ride, once a week so 7 of the children in her program can practice tennis on tennis courts and with tennis coach Rolando Martinez. Additionally, two of her students are already traveling to San Salvador to tennis tournaments.
Some of the PE teachers have worked with tennis in the past, but at the end of the Play Tennis course they shared with the group how motivated they were because even though they have worked with tennis in their schools in the past, they feel this “new course” gives them more tools to do a better job with the kids. They felt they could provide their children with the opportunity to serve, rally and score every time they play.
On the last day, Rolando Martinez, who coordinates the JTI program in Santa Ana and organised the course, brought a group of 50 students from a school for children and young people with intellectual disabilities who go to the tennis facility once a week. With the Play Tennis methodology and equipment, a one hour class was organised for them, ran by the students on the course. After the session, the Play Tennis course students exchanged opinions and they all felt the concepts given by the course really helped them find the way to achieve the goal of “serve, rally and score” with the students they had.
At the end of the course, the group expressed that they were grateful and eager to take the ITF Play Tennis to their schools and children. Santa Ana has been a source of strong tennis players in El Salvador and their tennis and PE teachers keep working to produce players. The Play Tennis course brought for them new light and ideas to continue their quest to produce more and better players.