Anyone for tennis?

On this occasion, spectators of a tennis tournament did not only concentrate their attention on the world's famous tennis players like Argentinean Martín Vasallo or Ecuadorian Nicolás Lapenti, but also on a group of special guests, the kids from SOS Children's Village Bogotá who attended the international competition.

A girl from SOS Children
A girl from SOS Children's Village Bogotá is taught how to hit a tennis ball (Photo: SOS Archives)
Every year the "Bancolombia Tennis Open" takes place in Colombia, the biggest men's tennis tournament of the country and the fifth most important in Latin America, thanks to its prizes and the 90 points in world ranking that the champion takes.

The 2008 version of this contest, carried out during the last months of March and April, had a special ingredient: the children of SOS Children's Village Bogotá. On this occasion, and as part of the development of a co-operation between a financial institution in Colombia and the main sponsor of the event and SOS Children's Villages Colombia, a decision was taken to develop an activity that would join sport stars with the country's children.

On the day of the event, a group of 50 children left the village at ten in the morning heading towards the Country Club, headquarters of the event. Upon arrival, the kids were received by some youths who were going to be their guides during the whole journey. Immediately, they took the group to the tennis courts of the club and there, with the help of professional tennis instructors, each of the children had the opportunity to play tennis, to run and to have a good time until they got tired. Then the children had the chance to play with some of the participating tennis players. After a break in the afternoon, the children were invited to watch, as special guests, one of the games of the tournament between Brazil and Colombia.

"I thought this game was easier," was what Marlon answered with certainty when asked about his feelings on the game.

Anyone for tennis? (Photo: SOS Archives)
Anyone for tennis? (Photo: SOS Archives)

"Since my mommy told me that we would go with Rodrigo and Henry to have fun at the tennis championship, I was really happy and I hardly slept that night, because I wanted the next day to arrive as soon as possible [...] I really liked handling a racket for the first time. The instructor gave us the racket one by one and I hit the ball very hard. Another thing that I also liked a lot was to meet very important [tennis] players, whom I had seen on TV."

Daniel (nine) ended the day by saying: "I would like to be a very important tennis player of the world... and I thank the people who invited us because I had a lot of fun, and what I liked best was to have the opportunity to play tennis... I had never played this game before."