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A study by the Rafa Nadal Foundation and the University funded by Banco Santander delves into the impact of sport on the well-being of people with intellectual disabilities.

The intellectual and motor skills of 52 athletes, members of the Rafa Nadal Foundation's project More than Tennis, have been evaluated.

FotoManuelCastells/Apolinar Varela, researcher principal of project of research and professor of School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

22 | 05 | 2024

A study analyzes the impact of sport on people with intellectual disabilities and confirms that it improves their quality of life, allows them to continue developing their motor skills and promotes their psychological well-being. This project of research has been carried out jointly by the Rafa Nadal Foundation and researchers from the University of Navarra, and has been funded by Banco Santander.

Under the degree scroll 'Sport as tool of Welfare and Inclusion in Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities', the results of this research offer a vision of the reality of athletes with intellectual disabilities and delve into the importance of sport as a vehicle for inclusion and improvement of the welfare of this group. In addition, the report establishes some future lines to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of these athletes and their families.

The intellectual and motor skills of 52 athletes were evaluated, and interviews were conducted with 36 athletes, 25 family members and 19 professionals and coaches. All of them belong to project 'Más que Tenis' of the Rafa Nadal Foundation, which has 10 schools, distributed in eight autonomous communities, and which has been developed since 2011 at partnership with Special Olympics.

The study points out that the socialization and improvement of tennis skills offered by project 'More than Tennis' are the most relevant functions for athletes and their families in the first place; as well as improving the autonomy staff, feeling fit and psychological well-being. Likewise, the research highlights the motivation on the part of the athletes, the positive attitude of the coaches and the social well-being as strong elements of the program; and points out as challenge the continuous training of the coaches and the people who are at contact with the athletes.

One of the objectives of the study was to analyze the perception that coaches and athletes in the program, as well as their families, have of the internship program. "We have made an approach that allows us to understand the impact of physical activity and the physical, psychological and social well-being of athletes in the 'Más Que Tenis' program and their families, as well as to explore the role of the agents involved in the project", says Apolinar Varela, researcher main and professor of School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra.

Rafael Nadal, founding trustee of the Rafa Nadal Foundation, expressed his continued commitment to the cause by stating: "We want to continue fighting inequality with our racquets.

This study represents a further step towards realizing that vision, using sport as a tool for inclusion and improved well-being.

Apolinar Varela, Leyre Gambra, Nerea Crespo, Araceli Arellano, Sara Magallón, Celeste Reyes, Ángel Sobrino and Raúl Fraguela-Vale participated in this project of research .

For more information about the study and its results, please visit: of study /