In an exciting first, Special Olympics has worked with our partner, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to create a free e-learning course called an "Introduction to Coaching Players with Intellectual Disabilities" for the ITF’s online learning platform the ITF Academy.
Since the course launched last week, over 390 users have registered to take it on the ITF Academy website, which has been made free for all to access for the length of the global shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since signing a memorandum of understanding in 2016, Special Olympics and the ITF have worked together to provide more tennis opportunities for people with and without an intellectual disability. This course is one key outcome of this collaboration, supporting the partnership goal of addressing the need for acceptance, inclusion, respect and participation in the sport of tennis.
Special Olympics is proud to share the knowledge and experience of our expert coaches to introduce the global community of ITF coaches to coaching tennis players with intellectual disabilities. Tennis is a sport for life and through this course, coaches around the world will be empowered to include and support players with ID in their clubs and classes and introduce the ITF coaching community to Special Olympics and Unified Sports.
The course was developed with expertise from both organisations, with contributors including Cecilia Ancalmo (ITF Development Officer for Central America), Fiona Murray (Director of Coaching and Education at Special Olympics International), Teresa Leitao (Director of Sports at Special Olympics Brazil) and Nancy Hoekstra (Special Olympics Tennis Sport Resource Committee Chair).
Luca Santilli, ITF Executive Director for Tennis Development, said, "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Special Olympics, and hope that tennis coaches across the world will see the latest ITF Academy course as a valuable resource. Those involved in the production of the course have a huge amount of expertise in coaching tennis players with intellectual disabilities and we are grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and experience. We look forward to further developing our relationship with Special Olympics in future."
“Special Olympics is delighted to partner with the ITF in providing this great opportunity to introduce the tennis coaching community to Special Olympics and coaching players with intellectual disabilities."
"We recognise our partnership with the ITF and its national member associations as vital channels through which we can raise the quality of sport programmes we offer to our athletes around the world and expand our coaching workforce. We look forward to introducing the global community of tennis coaches to Special Olympics and invite them to join us in our local community programmes around the world," Murray said.
Special Olympics Tennis Technical Delegate Teresa Leitão described the course as "an outstanding and extremely significant achievement because more coaches will know about Special Olympics tennis and will be able to spread the knowledge to other coaches and giving more opportunities to other athletes. Thanks ITF, and the whole team involved in this course."