ITF president calls for lifetime education for young athletes

Updated: 2014-08-22 17:22


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NANJING, China - With personal experience as an example, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) president Francesco Ricci Bitti calls for all the young athletes at the Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to learn all through life.

"Education is important for everyone including the athletes at the Youth Olympic Games and, even at my age, I recognise that you should never stop trying to learn new things," said Bitti, who is now visiting the Youth Olympics here in Nanjing.

"While these athletes competing at the YOG are of a very high standard, not all of them will be successful professionals. Education will help them to determine what they will do with their lives after tennis.

"Even the ones who are able to have successful professional careers need to learn as much as they can so that they can responsibly manage their success."

Bitti, himself a former tennis player from Italy, was once chosen by the national team at 18 years old, but that's also his highest peak of career. Bitti admitted that tennis could be a lifetime hobby but not a profession and he made some good choices at 18.

"I wish I could say I was a former champion but, in truth, I was a good player but not a great one. I studied at university, worked for many years in telecommunications and volunteered at many levels in tennis, becoming president of the Italian Federation, of Tennis Europe and of the ITF," he said.

"I still play from time to time but my schedule is very busy so not nearly as often as I might like. Tennis has given me a wonderful life and I would encourage any player to expand their ideas of how they can contribute beyond the court."