In recent years we have witnessed a real exponential growth of the padel discipline, which from a “niche” sporting activity has become increasingly fashionable and increasingly practiced. Born from a derivation of the more famous older brother, tennis, padel is practiced in pairs, in a rectangular field closed by walls – often transparent – on all four sides, with a racket with a rigid plate and a very similar ball to that of tennis: despite the same shape, that of padel however has a lower internal pressure, which allows greater control of the shots and rebounds on the banks. A sport, therefore, that can bring significant benefits from the point of view of coordination.
Starting from this assumption, in 2018 the Federación Pádel de la Comunidad Valenciana created 3 different programs – specific for children aged 3 to 10, for children and preteens aged between 6 and 12 and for young people aged 6 to 18 – intended for people with intellectual disabilities. All three programs are held by qualified instructors, with the necessary equipment supplied by the FPCV itself: in fact, lighter rackets – weighing 200 grams – low pressure balls and height-adjustable nets specially developed by the Federation are provided. After having successfully designed and implemented this training model, suitable for approaching, involving and integrating children and young people with disabilities through the discipline of padel, the FPCV has decided to expand and share its experience at European level, to involve not only padel instructors, but also sports professionals and physical education teachers. Thus was born Pad4Youth, a project involving the UISP Ciriè Settimo Chivasso APS Committee, the Ginásio Clube Português of Lisbon -Portugal- the non-profit organization l’España Se Mueve of Madrid -Spain- and the European Institute for the Development of Sport, Kinesiology and Health in Umag, Croatia.
“The different nature of the realities present in this project – explains the Director of the Territorial UISP Ciriè Settimo Chivasso and Head of European Projects Roberto Rinaldi – will highlight the potential of each one and create an important enrichment for all those who will participate in the project. As far as the Committee is concerned, we will take care of doing what we have always done, through many nuances: bringing children and young people with intellectual disabilities and at risk of social exclusion closer to this sport, leveraging the socialization factor of padel and the sport in general”. Pad4Youth, in addition to wanting to promote the integration and physical and mental well-being of young people with intellectual disabilities, also aims at the exchange of good practices between the different partner countries, providing the opportunity to teach a new method of approach using innovative equipment.
The project will last 18 months and will end with a celebratory event in Spain: more details will soon be defined during the kick-off meeting that will take place in Valencia on December 15th.