Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala sports ministry Saturday announced a partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies (MBTA) to provide professional tennis training in public schools across the state.
Named the “SMILE Project”, the ministry and MBTA aim to tap the grassroot talent in Kerala by introducing children to the game at an early age and subsequently selecting a core group to be groomed further.
Coaching programmes will be conducted in three schools — St. Mary’s Pattom, Vidhura School and Mudavanmughal L.P.S. School. Exceptional students at these programmes will be invited to regular training sessions to be held at the Mudavanmughal School.
“We are confident that this project will provide the necessary infrastructure and expertise that would nurture strong tennis talent in the state and will work towards encouraging them to aspire for national representation,” said Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs director Dr. P. Pugazhendi.
Delighted at the prospect, MBTA CEO Gaurav Natekar said: “We are thankful to the Kerala government for initiating a first of its kind public-private partnerships in sport. Through our multiple academies we have realised that although there is no dearth of talent in the state, there is a lack of strong infrastructure supplemented by a quality coaching and training programme.
“Through this initiative, we hope to overcome the challenges and build the environments that encourage sport. The sports ministry has also recognised 42 schools across 14 districts in the state where the SMILE Project will conduct its camps.”