INDIA: TENNIS - Roger Federer visits Indian tsunami zone as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
- Title: INDIA: TENNIS - Roger Federer visits Indian tsunami zone as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
- Date: 23rd December 2006
- Summary: VARIOUS OF A PUPPET SHOW AT THE VENUE FEDERER AND VAVRINEC WATCHING
- Reuters ID: LVAERRAN0S0J6TU118V20D3T27GN
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Duration: 00:00:27
- Topics: Sports,Social Services / Welfare
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Swiss world tennis number one Roger Federer said in India on Friday (December 22) that helping social causes such as tsunami survivors' rehabilitation has enabled him become a more complete person.
Federer is in India as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with his girlfriend, Miroslava 'Mirka' Vavrinec, visiting children at rehabilitation centres in southern Tamil Nadu state, where more than 7,000 were killed by the tsunami on December 26, 2004.
"For me as a person I always wanted to do a little bit more than just play tennis and my mum is from South Africa, so I always have a strong bond with South Africa where you have a lot of poor children who don't get a chance for education and that's always what my goal was -- give somebody else a chance and specially now, in the position that I am, I started to do that. I have the project and UNICEF came along and we share similar values and for me last few years have been very interesting and this makes me much more complete as a person when I can help other people than just to play tennis," said
the 25-year-old, nine-time grand slam winner said.
Nicknamed 'Fed Ex' for his express winning streak that has seen him retain the number one spot in world tennis for a third year, Federer said he tried devoting as much time to philanthropy as his hectic schedule permitted.
"I don't have too much time to give to these causes, to go to charity events or to organise one myself so I just try to do as much as I can and time is limited but I hope eventually when my career is over, maybe in five years maybe in 10 years, I don't know, but then I will have much more time to do such causes. At the moment it is limited, but then I said to myself now in December it's my time off and I really want to do something and the chance to come to India and you know for tsunami and it was very important for me," Federer said.
Federer was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in April 2006, after teaming up with the organisation after the tsunami struck and leading several fund-raising initiatives like the ATP All-Star Rally for Relief.
He also heads the Roger Federer Foundation, which works with disadvantaged children in South Africa.
Federer, reigning champion at the Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Opens, encouraged the idea of sportspersons taking part in social causes.
"I think really we have the power of being in front of the microphone very, very often and I think that is also one of the reasons people listen to us, because when we take a microphone up then it is something serious to talk about otherwise we would rather have our privacy and stay at home. So I think because sport is such an emotional sport too, you have a lot of fans around the world and specially in tennis which is such a global sport, when an athlete gets involved in something like this I think that raises a lot of awareness and then you can create money and then you can help many many people and that is really my goal as well here," Federer said.
The Swiss, arguably the greatest tennis player ever, said he was in Dubai at the time of the tsunami and was jolted by the news.
"I was in the Maldives only two weeks before the tsunami hit so maybe in a way I got lucky as well that's also why I have such a strong bond and I am trying to help," he said.
Federer got a rousing welcome by the children, many of whom are yet to shrug off the catastrophe that lost them home, families and friends.
"When legendary people like Roger Federer come, their presence inspires us to achieve greatness when we grow older. When they come and talk, we know that here is someone who is an achiever; it inspires us. We would one day want to achieve the same kind of heights that they have achieved," said 17-year old Vimla, a ninth-grade student in a special school for tsunami victims run by UNICEF.
The tsunami generated by a massive earthquake off Indonesia killed more than 231,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Tamil Nadu suffered India's largest toll. Neighbouring coastal state Andhra Pradesh also suffered massive casualties.
While India was generally praised for providing relief to victims following the tragedy, as in other affected countries, providing permanent housing has been slow.
In India, the fishing community was the hard-hit, with hundreds of small fishing hamlets dotted with poorly constructed houses and shacks, located right on the beach getting washed away.
Most victimes were women and children who could not run fast enough to escape the waves.
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