USTA Foundation partners with ESPN to revitalize the YMCA of San Juan
Working with ESPN, local partners and international sports development organizations, the USTA Foundation has helped restore and revitalize the YMCA of San Juan over the past year, where thousands of Puerto Ricans will become and stay active through tennis and other sports. . Heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2018, the “Y” as residents call it, the facility officially reopened in a virtual groundbreaking ceremony on August 17, featuring the Olympic gold medalist of Rio Monica Puig on hand to celebrate.
The virtual event featured remarks from stakeholders, including Mabel Román Padró, Executive Director of YMVCA San Juan; Rosa María Martinez, Executive Director of the Caribbean Section of the USTA and the Puerto Rican Tennis Association; and Freddy Rolón, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at ESPN, on the impact of the installation in the local community and included a special question-and-answer session between Puig and two children from the local national tennis chapter. and Junior Apprenticeship (NJTL) from PRTA.
The project is the 10th in ESPN’s “Built to Play” series, which builds multifunctional sports spaces in areas where they can have the most impact in the interests of sustainability, employment and social life. empowerment of young people. Locations are selected based on need, population and socio-economic status, and the program has so far built facilities in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and India, including one in Nigeria later this year.
“When I won the gold medal in 2016, I was so excited to see that the youth of Puerto Rico were starting to demand to play more tennis and the sport was really gaining weight in Puerto Rico. To be a part of that and being part of this effort to restore the YMCA courts… it’s just huge, ”Puig said.
“I hope that young people who go up, young children, do not see sport just – and not just tennis – as something to be won, but as something that makes them happy, something that gives them an outlet in stressful times. Especially now with COVID, with having to learn online, having to stay at home so much, I think sport is a really good way to get them out, to alleviate some of that stress .
“Mental health is also an integral part of it. I feel like going out, running, connecting with friends and just having this athletic community can be absolutely amazing for a child’s development. There are so many great opportunities in sport, and not just being a professional athlete. It opens so many doors for the future of a young child. The fact that the PRTA, ESPN, and the YMCA are doing this, it’s going to mean so much. “
The completion of the project represents the mission of the USTA Foundation in Action: The USTA’s national charitable arm provides free, low-cost tennis and education programs to thousands of young people across the United States each year. and its territories through more than 250 chapters in the NJTL network. The PRTA has had an affiliated NJTL chapter since 2001.