Padel Legend Fernando Belasteguín’s Inspiring Visit to the Vatican

April 8, 2024

His visit, aligned with the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6, highlighted the profound impact of sports in fostering unity, support, and inclusion.

Amplified by Vatican Athletics members, Belasteguín and his family first engaged with the “Santa Marta” Pediatric Clinic’s community, a haven for impoverished families. Sister Anna Luisa Rizzello, the clinic’s director, and Valentina Giacometti, vice president of Vatican Athletics, warmly welcomed them, underscoring the visit’s significance. “Yesterday marked the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace,” Giacometti remarked, emphasizing the transformative power of sports in cultivating a society that values openness, support, and fraternity.

Echoing this sentiment, Belasteguín, who impressively held the world number 1 rank for 16 consecutive years, stressed, “The official presence of the Vatican Federation in the world of padel is important because it emphasizes fundamental values such as solidarity and inclusion through sport, and, above all, through a popular discipline like padel.” He passionately advocated for initiatives that engage and empower children with disabilities and those from vulnerable communities.

In a testament to the Vatican’s commitment to inclusivity in sports, Vatican Athletics recently organized inclusive padel matches. These events brought together young individuals with autism and Down syndrome, offering them and their families an enriching and joyful experience.

Beyond his contributions on the padel court, Belasteguín’s visit extended to the serene Vatican Gardens and the iconic St. Peter’s Basilica, joined by Vatican Padel’s leadership team, including director Alessandra Turco, deputy director Barbara Carusi, and secretary-general Fabrizio Peloni. This visit not only celebrated the unifying spirit of sports but also showcased the Vatican’s growing engagement with padel, a sport beloved by many for its accessibility and communal values.

As the global padel community continues to flourish, Fernando Belasteguín’s visit to the Vatican is a powerful reminder of the sport’s potential to inspire change, promote inclusivity, and build bridges across diverse communities.

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