By Marcos Anselmo Ferreira Franco, ITFR President 2020-22, PGD 2010-11 District 4420
2-5 December is a landmark in the history of the International Tennis Fellowship of Rotarians (ITFR). During this time, 19 Brazilian Rotarian tennis players and their families held the 8th ITFR Brazilian Championship, to keep the flame of fellowship alive, one of the values of Rotary International, which is the basis of ITFR – International Tennis Fellowship Group of Rotarians.
Through its Rotary club, the city of Serra Negra, District 4590, was the event’s chosen location. There were four days of intense fellowship, tennis games, a lot of Rotary learning and a contribution to our great worldwide project: polio eradication.
The biggest challenge, without a doubt, was not to allow the participation of our biggest enemy: Covid-19. The entire tournament was prepared with strict hygiene, social distance, mask and outdoor environments. There were even dropouts of participants for having had contact with coronavirus carriers.
The main attraction of hobby-oriented fellowship groups are personal encounters combined with the practice of an activity. Due to the pandemic,groups have had a lot of difficulty holding their in-person events. While international meetings were prohibited, , some regions still had the ability to host these events locally. In the case of Brazil, because of its size, safe travel during a pandemic is an immense challenge. We had participants from the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and São Paulo, where the majority traveled by car.
In addition to games between fellowship participants and family members of various ages distributed in their categories, there were leisure moments such as a cocktail reception hosted by Rotarians from Serra Negra, a wine tasting made in the cities of the Serra da Mantiqueira and a KIRMAR show with a band.. There were also walks in the city of Serra Negra and intense fellowship.
The organization of the event was executed with mastery by the Rotarian and tournament director Alexandre Klein Maraucci, who knew how to perfectly combine all the Rotary and tennis ingredients so that the participants would not notice the time passing. It even involved an Interact project from the Serra Negra RC that works at the Kirmayr Training Center: Corona Virus, how to prevent it. The project consists of providing a kit with mask and alcohol gel sachet, with instructions, to all the participants of the training center.
The Kirmayr Training Center is the largest in Latin America of its kind. It was created in the late 1980s by former tennis player and professional coach, well known throughout the tennis world, Carlos Alberto Kirmayr. Kirmayr, whose father was a Rotarian, also became a Rotarian three years ago, and lives and breathes tennis 24 hours a day. In addition to conducting training, CTK has maintained a program to prepare young people who want to play tennis and study at American universities for 15 years. Kirmayr maintains at his residence, at CTK, up to 20 young people in boarding school, who attend high school, study English and are technically preparing to play tennis in order to obtain scholarships. These same young people form an Interact and develop projects in the community.
The ITFR, founded in 2004 and currently chaired by me, currently has 1,918 registered members, 405 from South America, including 280 Brazilians. The ITFR brings together members from 80 countries, being the 5th group of companionship with the highest participation of countries and the 6th largest group, among the 73, with the largest number of members.
At each event held, the group must seek financial support for local projects and for polio. This 8th Brazilian championship contributed USD $1,000 to polio, thanks to the special support of Governor Watson Travassos of District 4420 to achieve this goal. Since 2004, the group has contributed USD $387,000 to polio. Many global projects were made possible through this international group.
This tournament is proof that Fellowship members can do a lot for the community, looking for innovative solutions in this delicate moment of the world pandemic.
Our website – itfr.org.
Our motto – “Score an ace with Rotary … for a winning Service!”.