Pope Francis signs the "solidarity racket" at the General Audience of 26 April 2023 Pope Francis signs the "solidarity racket" at the General Audience of 26 April 2023  (Vatican Media)

Pope signs padel racket to aid Santa Marta Paediatric Dispensary

Vatican Padel and the International Padel Federation promote an important solidarity initiative to help 500 poor families with young children.

By Vatican News staff reporter

At the General Audience on Wednesday, 26 April, the Pope was presented with a padel racket which he personally signed.

Designed by Roman artist Barbara Salvucci and manufactured by Bullpadel, the autographed “solidarity racket” will be auctioned on Friday, 5 May, on Bullpadel channels to raise funds that will go entirely to the ‘Santa Marta’ Paediatric Dispensary.

The power of inclusion

The Holy Father met with Alessandra Turco, Director of Vatican Padel, and Barbara Salvucci, together with Davide De Santis, Vatican Padel’s youngest player, who expressed how through sport “one really experiences the power of inclusion, one universal friendship, because padel brings together the community without distinction”.

At the General Audience with Pope Francis
At the General Audience with Pope Francis

Also with them was Mr Luigi Carraro, President of the International Padel Federation, who emphasized the importance of “one racket, which is the same for everyone, all over the world.

"This”, he said, “is the symbolic power of the ‘pala de padel’ signed by the Holy Father”, adding, “We have to imagine that in every corner of the world every player — amateur or professional — holds his racket as if it were Pope Francis’ and is, therefore, a messenger of loyalty, solidarity, friendship, inclusion, and motivation with the goal of learning, growing, improving as people through sport. As His Holiness recently said ‘Sport is a metaphor for life’.”

He affirmed that if the proceeds of the sale of the padel racket can improve the lives of families supported by the Vatican Paediatric Dispensary ‘Santa Marta’, then “we will have won, without doubt, the most beautiful and important trophy in the world.”

An extraordinary initiative

With them were Mr Diego Miller, President of the American Padel Federation representing the federations of the American continent, and Mr Alfredo Peñalver, President of the prestigious Spanish brand Bullpadel, who stated: “It is an honour to be part of the ‘team’” spearheading “this extraordinary initiative ... made in the name of inclusion, mutual support, and care for others. An initiative”, he added, “that reminds us all how much sport can be a powerful engine of brotherhood, friendship, and help towards the weakest”.

The "solidarity racket" initiative was jointly promoted by the International Padel Federation and Athletica Vaticana, the official multi-sports association of the Holy See. Pope Francis personally encouraged this solidarity project last April 26 by receiving the promoters in audience and blessing and signing the racket which was designed with motifs that recall the experience of inclusion through sport.

Helping children a duty and a privilege

Also present at the Audience was a very moved Delfina Brea, 23-year-old vice world champion with the Argentine national team. “I have never felt such an emotion”, she said. Delfina was baptized by Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. “If someone had told me that one day, I would meet him again at the Vatican thanks to padel, how could I have believed him? ... Helping them [the children] is not a duty, but a privilege. That is why I sincerely thank the International Padel Federation and Athletica Vaticana, for teaching me today how a racket can have two ‘faces’ on the court but many more in life, simply by teaming up and helping others”, she concluded.

Davide de Santis and Delfina Brea
Davide de Santis and Delfina Brea

In addition to providing economic support to the Dispensary, the project wants to testify to the values of inclusion and solidarity that Athletica Vaticana strives to live out.

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04 May 2023, 14:05