Rafael Nadal was accompanied by Ana María Parera, Francina Armengol, Miquel Ensenyat and José Hila.

The Rafa Nadal Foundation yesterday inaugurated its first centre through which it will create an educational and sporting project aimed at children and young people who are socially disadvantaged. The centre, located in Palma’s Nou Llevant district on land ceded to it by the town hall, actually opened in October and it is currently used by more than 140 children and their families.

Offering a complementary educative programme, the centre uses sport as its main means of bringing about personal integration and development as well as inspiring values of respect, excellence and fellowship. It is a project with three essential areas of work: sporting, socio-educational and psychotherapeutic.

At the inauguration, the Manacor-born tennis star was accompanied by, among others, the president of the Rafa Nadal Foundation, Ana María Parera, the president of the Balearics, Francina Armengol, the president of the Council of Majorca, Miquel Ensenyat, and the mayor of Palma, José Hila.  Ana María Parera said: “The opening of the Rafa Nadal Foundation Centre is the result of work we have been developing for seven years.” To this, Nadal himself added: “This project is especially important for us for a variety of reasons: for being the first that is 100% the Rafa Nadal Foundation; for bringing children together through sport and education; and for being launched in our own land, i.e. Majorca.”

Directed at children between the ages of six and sixteen who are in poverty or, among other problems, have difficulties with social integration, the project provides opportunities for correct personal and social development. Previously, and on a provisional basis, the project had been housed in other municipal facilities.

The Rafa Nadal Foundation receives support from sponsors such as Nestlé and Richard Mille as well as from Philips and Roca for the equipping of the centre. In addition to the Palma centre, the foundation is active in four projects in Spain and India: the Anantapur Education Centre where help is given to children in one of India’s most deprived areas; Más que Tenis (More than Tennis), which promotes sport among young people with learning difficulties; Integration and Sport, which fosters the personal and social development of children at risk of social exclusion; and recently, Study and Play, which enables the combining of sport and study in the USA.

The tennis star, who hopes to be able to devote some of his time to the centre, concluded that he was “happy and privileged” in adding the centre to the work of a foundation that is currently helping some 800 children in all.