By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
I find myself in Italy, specifically, in Tuscany. The day before yesterday I was awarded the Fair Play Mecenate prize and appointed the initiative’s world ambassador, and yesterday, I was awarded the Solidarity in Sport prize for my work with the Emilio Sanchez Vicario Foundation. I was very nervous, but at the same time, completely delighted.
This is the second prize which I have been awarded through the Foundation. The first was at Ciudad Raqueta in Madrid, where the Foundation has a center and where a special padel school for people with Down syndrome has been developed. I was enormously happy, not just for the prize, but also because Ciudad Raqueta was part of it. It was Javier Marti, its managing director and partner, who motivated and inspired me to set up the Foundation with a few other friends, and I will always be grateful to him for pushing me. Moreover, he has been the most proactive partner; he doesn’t just help, but absolutely throws himself into the work alongside the team.
It just so happens that we are in the middle of a music festival which features the wheelchair tennis International Tournament, won by the best Spanish player Dani Caverzaschi, who is also a directing partner of the Foundation. So I don’t have enough words to express how grateful I am to the people from Cdr, and the bands Hombres G, Secretos, Duncan du, who all gave a donation so that the foundation is able to carry on with its programs. Thank you Koki.
I believe that now is the right time to dedicate a moment to writing a little about the Foundation so that the public can get to know more about the work we do. Jumping back to the era when I was Davis Cup captain, in 2008 we visited Peru. Thanks to the Mapfre Foundation, we were able to visit a camp that had been set up for people in Pisco. It was there that I realized that we could help and that the people would be very appreciative. Whilst flying back in the small place and speaking to Clara, the manager of the Mapfre Foundation on that trip, I decided to give myself a kick and really focus on this project. Coincidences in life, I imagine thanks to that relationship, has meant that the Mapfre Foundation has become our second great partner and is the organization with whom we developed the padel and tennis school for people with autism in Seville, and the intellectual disability center in Barcelona. I cannot thank the Mapfre Foundation enough, not only are they a great sponsor of tennis, but for me and the Foundation they have become like family.
I would also like to give thanks to our partnership with the Down Syndrome Foundation, with whom we created the padel school in Cuidad Raqueta, and Blind Tennis, with whom we formed a school for blind players in Ciudad Raqueta. If you would like to volunteer, we are accepting applications and would love to hear from you.
I also owe thanks to the Sanchez-Casal Academy, Mutua, Sanitas, Santander, Caixa, Repsol for having organized different projects as well as volunteering or fundraising events on various occasions.
But yesterday we were awarded this prize in a different country, by a jury from a place where we don’t run any programs, but who love sport and care enough to know about what we do. Yesterday was not just a prize but a great pleasure, crossing borders and embodying such an important symbol of solidarity.
Although I will be the one to collect the prize, it isn’t for me, it’s for the whole team that are behind the projects, the partners I have appointed, the members of the Foundation with Blanca at its head, Koki, Marisa, Xavi, Daniel, Eva, Inigo, Marina… But most of all for the instructors in Seville; Andres and Javier in Madrid; Down syndrome Simón and Amparo, from Blind Tennis, Miguel and Miguel Angel, in Toledo; Paco, and in Barcelona, Rocio.
One of the phrases used by Blanca Hernanz, the Director of Projects at the Foundation, is that we help any group with a disability have a better life through racket sports. All of the funds we raise go only and exclusively to the students. We hope to continue growing and soon, and take this wonderful award across borders. Today we have nearly 150 students in our five padel and tennis school for people with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities.
A huge thank you once again to everybody, and especially to the people at Fair Play Mecenate a Menarini for their hospitality and their great work. We really hope to collaborate with you in the future.
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy
To know more details about us: Fundación Emilio Sánchez Vicario.