The fantastic setting of Piazza di Siena, in an appendix to the Roman summer, hosted the festive three-day finale of the project “TTX EU Format … more FUN more LIFE, “ organized by the Italian Tennis Federation, which was awarded aEuropean Union tender under the program ERASMUS+. They were also moments of great involvement of all the townspeople and the many tourists passing through.
During 2023, the initiative involved young people aged 11 to 18 from Italy and from Spain, France, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Malta, Slovenia, Hungary, and Cyprus, i.e., the nine European countries whose tennis federations collaborated with FITeT.
“In Italy,” explains Federal President Renato Di Napoli, “through the Regional Committees and our sports clubs distributed throughout the territory, we have organized ten school tournaments and as many Road Show stages in city squares. The other nine European countries put on one school and one city competition each. In total, about 6,000 children participated. The winners of all these tournaments, organized both in Italy and abroad, competed here in Rome. In this regard, I want to thank theDepartment of Major Events, Sport, Tourism and Fashion of Roma Capitale and Sport & Salute, which granted us sponsorship. The initiative was part of the calendar of events of the European Week of Sport, promoted by the #BeActive campaign and desired by theEuropean Union, with the support of the Minister for Sport and Youth Andrea Abodi through the Department for Youth Policies and Universal Civil Service. I am grateful to all of them for their cooperation, including the Gymnastics Federation of Italy and the Italian Sports Dance Federation, who helped enliven the three-day event with their performances.”
Welcoming the delegations at the Opening Ceremony was FITeT Secretary General Giuseppe Marino: “We are particularly happy to host you in our capital city, in one of the largest and best-known parks in the world, an oasis of greenery close to the city’s historic wonders. With our project, we have tried to make sure you have fun, but above all, we have tried to show how by playing sports, whatever it is, you get many benefits by socializing and improving athletic skills. To do this we used Table Tennis X, which, as you have experienced, is a different way of playing table tennis or ping pong, as you prefer to call it. We would like to create a European TTX circuit in the future, which can continue to involve those who are unwilling or unable to play tennis professionally.”
FITeT’s guest speaker was Vivek Kohli, co-chairman of Stag International, the Federation’s technical sponsor. “TTX,” he commented, “brings people closer to the sport, and for us in tennis volleyball it is very important to have fans. Italy is doing a great job and this is a wonderful promotion, important to generate fans and also future players. Sport is fun, it is not stress. Competition generates tension and instead TTX produces fun, joy, unity and friendship. The “TTX EU Format” project is good not only for Europe, because through social media also in other countries they see what is happening here, and this is fundamental to make our sport more popular.”
Sport and Health was represented in Siena Square by CEO Diego Nepi Molineris and board member Maria Spena. “In an evocative setting such as the Villa Borghese in Piazza di Siena,” Maria Spena explained, “this very intense three-day event takes place, involving youngsters from Italy and nine other European countries in a sport that fascinates people of all ages, from teenagers to Veterans, so much so that next year the FITeT will organize the World Masters, reserved for Over 40 athletes, right here in Rome. The “TTX EU Format” is an inclusive project of openness to all young people. There are also kids with disabilities, who are here to have fun. These are our founding principles. As Sport and Health, we wanted this fantastic venue to be available to the Federation and all the competing nations. These are beautiful, happy, joy-filled days.”
They all gripped the Table Tennis X’s customary rackets, made of wood and without rubber covers, and competed to send the balls, larger and heavier than in table tennis, beyond the net once more than their opponents.
The school tournament was won by Robert Di Vito, from Vasto, Abruzzo, who beat Michail Michailidis of Cyprus 2-1 in the final. “I attend the eighth grade at the “Gabriele Rossetti” Language Institute,” Di Vito recounted, “and I learned about TTX at school, during some lessons taught by a teacher. We played the final tournament and I won it, earning the right to come to Rome. I have a small table at home and I used to play a little tennis before I met TTX. I came here hoping to win and I’m glad I did.”
The Road Show tournament, which pitted the winners of the various city stops in Italy and abroad, featured the success of 17-year-old Krzysztof Bohm from Poland, who attends Rumia Liceum. In the final he got the better of Edoardo Tribuzi of Perugia 2-1. “I play tennis in the Polish Second League,” he said, “and I started playing it when I was 8 years old. So I knew the sport before I got in touch with TTX. I really like competitive volleyball and will continue to play it. TTX made a good impression on me, I find it very fun and also useful for tennis volleyball because it gives me a good feeling with the racket and the ball. Here in Rome, I did not expect to win and therefore I am even happier to have succeeded.”
The last competition was for the Nations. Each country fielded two teams, composed of athletes registered with the federations. Italy 1 of Sofia Minurri and Emmanuele Delsante prevailed 2-1 in the final act over Spain 2 of Rafael Taboada Valverde and Alvaro Perez. “We had a beautiful success,” Delsante stressed, “and we had to sweat it out. Sofia scored some incredible points and was fantastic. As Italians we are very happy to have won at home here in Rome.” Very significant, finally, is the testimony of theIstituto Polo Tecnico del Mediterraneo “Aldo Moro” Technical Institute in Santa Cesarea Terme (Lecce) , which has adopted TTX as its main activity in motor science hours. “It is well attended and arouses interest,” explain teachers Rosa Luce Cretì and Ippazio Ferraro, “even in pupils with disabilities. One of them is autistic and three have cognitive delays. We see them serene and happy. This enables them to gain higher self-esteem. They are more casual and relaxed and compare themselves with others without the fear of making mistakes. Here in Rome we have noticed an incredible inclusion. They played with athletes from other countries and also overcame the language problem. They made themselves understood and for them this interaction was a very normal thing. We were pleased to see them so comfortable. We will try to organize ourselves to expand this kind of educational proposal internally.”