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University research aims to "give a voice" to the protagonists of adapted sport in Spain

The study will analyse the Rafa Nadal Foundation's "More than Tennis" programme to find out how sport contributes to the physical, psychological and social well-being of people with disabilities.

07 | 02 | 2022

Giving a voice to the athletes, families and professionals of adapted sport is the goal of a new project of research of the School from Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra. Sponsored by Banco Santander, the study will analyse the 'More than tennis' programme that the Rafa Nadal Foundationis developing together with Special Olympics.

The research, presented at the framework of a workshop held at the University of Navarra, will focus on this initiative that has been carried out for more than ten years in 22 educational centres throughout Spain. In "This programme, among other objectives, improves the psychomotor skills of athletes and encourages the transmission of the values of sport," said Xisco Mercadal, sports technician at the Rafa Nadal Foundation.

Apolinar Varela, researcher main project and professor of the accredited specialization in Sport of the School of Education and Psychology, explained that one of the reasons that originated the research was the scarce development that adapted sport has had in our country compared to others like Canada or Mexico, "possibly due to the scarce evolution of this sport at the Olympic level".

Likewise, the researcher indicated that a large part of the scientific production that has evaluated this field has focused on physical performance through standardised batteries -which are not adapted to the group with functional diversity-, and in which there is no clear identification of the people who collaborate in these programs of study. "There is a need for a qualitative approach in which the opinions and impressions of the protagonists are the driving force for further study in this field", explained researcher. For this reason, the study will conduct interviews, focus groups, adaptive behaviour questionnaires, among others, and will focus on how sport affects families and on assessing the quality of life of their athletes.

"We hope to gain a better understanding of the young athletes in the 'More than tennis' programme, to have better information about young athletes with intellectual disabilities globally, and to generate more knowledge professionals about the Rafa Nadal Foundation's programme and help develop future lines of research", explained the professor.

Participating in the workshop were the dean and vice-dean of Practicum of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra, Concepción Naval and Olga Lizasoáin; Álvaro Terreros, director technician of the Special Olympics organisation; Beatriz Echevarría, of Ipartenis; Jordi Celaya, of the Navarre Federation of Adapted Sports; and Gregorio Mañeru, director technician of the service of Sports of the University of Navarra.