The first international wheelchair tennis tournament in Barcelona, from June 29 to July 2 at the Royal Polo Club in Barcelona, is organized and run by José Coronado, ambassador of the Cruyff Foundation and graduate of the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute
From June 29 to July 2 the ‘TRAM Barcelona Open Fundación Johan Cruyff’ will take place in Barcelona, the first international wheelchair tennis tournament to be held in Barcelona. Its slogan is ‘Move the limits’. Its aim is to present adapted tennis to all the citizens of Barcelona and become a benchmark in the wheelchair tennis world circuit. And its raison d’être brings together these two aims. José Coronado, director and organizer of the tournament, has not stopped ‘moving’ despite having to get used to seeing the world from a wheelchair for the last 10 years. Everything happens slower from that perspective, but his head goes faster than ever.
“For me, the fact that the tournament bears the name of the Cruyff Foundation is a matter of pride and it was, ever since I began to give shape to my dream of organizing an event of these characteristics, a non-negotiable aspect”, says José. “The values that the tournament wants to promote are the same as those of the Cruyff Foundation; we have a common philosophy. That is why it is totally in tune in this aspect”. The personal factor is even much stronger. The paths of José Coronado and Johan Cruyff crossed by chance seven years ago and for the former it was a turning point in his life. “The very day I met Johan he offered without hesitation to help me in my sports career. That will remain forever engraved in my memory and that the tournament bears his name is a small tribute to him. I’m sure he would have liked to be present to enjoy the matches”.
Pati Roura, director of the Cruyff Foundation Spain, remembers that day perfectly. “We were at a charity paddle tennis tournament and someone introduced him to Johan. Suddenly, Johan came to me and said, ‘Think of something, we have to help this guy.’ It was in 2010. Shortly afterwards, we made him an ambassador of the Foundation and, later, we gave him a scholarship to study the Master in Sport Management at the Institute. Johan saw something in him and, once again, he was right. That his tournament bears the name of the Foundation is very nice and very special”.
That dream of organizing a tournament developed into solid ideas as he progressed with his Master classes. Another door opened in his path and he decided to move those limits once more. “It was during the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute that the idea of creating the tournament arose. They gave me the tools to do it. Today, I have a friendly personal relationship with the whole family of the Foundation and the Institute, and I consider myself to be one more member of the group”, says José.
Cristina Palés, marketing manager at the Johan Cruyff Institute, says that “since José presented his final Master project, we were always clear that if one day it became a reality, we would want to participate in some way. For us, it felt like something natural, with the Cruyff Foundation being involved and also one of our partner entities, the Royal Polo Club of Barcelona. We are very proud and confident that it will be a success”.
And the moment has come. From Thursday to Sunday, 44 male and female players will make the Royal Polo Club of Barcelona their home to participate in the ‘TRAM Barcelona Open Fundación Johan Cruyff’. The finals will be broadcast live on TV3. The director of the tournament has already made sure that nothing is lacking. José Coronado, a regular on the international wheelchair tennis circuit, will not be on the court this time. But there is something we are sure of before play even begins. This tournament he has already won.
Here we reproduce the interview that José gave us a little more than a month before the celebration of the event, in which he explains how the idea was born, how it took shape and everything that must be taken into account for the organization of an international tournament of this level.
Two years ago you graduated with a Master in Sport Management from Johan Cruyff Institute and today you are presenting the first international wheelchair tennis tournament in Barcelona. Does it feel like you’re dreaming?
A little, yes. When this project started a year and a half ago, it was a dream, and now we are a month and a half away from it becoming a reality and it has been hard work, complicated and a dream, totally.
Were you sure that organizing and managing a tournament like this was what you wanted to do when you started to do the Master in Sport Management?
The truth is no. My idea when I started to do the Master was to train in sport management, redirect my professional life towards the world of sport and be linked to this world, but it was not until I was more or less halfway through the Master that I began to think that it could be a good idea, after studying subjects like marketing, event organization … That’s when the idea began to be born in my head that perhaps I could organize a tournament of these characteristics.
You are an active player, at an international level. Knowing what a tournament of these characteristics needs will have helped a lot to organize everything, right?
It is very helpful to know what, as a player, you like to have during tournaments, in terms of accommodation, services, etc. It helps you a lot as an organizer. Being a player gives you some ideas and tools that are harder to know if you are not.
How has the knowledge you acquired in management served you when organizing the tournament?
Very much, in all areas. To have a more global idea of what the organization of a tournament entails: both economically, having some initial budgets and pre-balances; at the marketing level and, above all, at the level of event organization, the different sections that you have to work on at the communication, organization and volunteer levels. The Master has been fundamental in helping me to structure very well everything that an event of these characteristics needs.
What details do you need to take care of in a wheelchair tennis tournament that you do not need in an able-bodied tennis tournament?
To start, you need to be very aware that you are organizing an event that will involve people with reduced mobility. That is the first detail that has to be 100% carefully looked after, so that all places where the athletes will go must be 100% accessible or as accessible as possible: the hotel has to be accessible, the tennis courts have to be accessible, and everything has to be taken care of in that sense. But the vast majority of things are the same as an able-bodied tennis tournament. You have to have your stringer, your physiotherapist … but we also have to have a space to store all the chairs and a mechanic (which the ITF obliges us to have) in case during a game a chair suffers a malfunction or a piece is broken. All these aspects must be controlled and are different from an able-bodied tournament.
What has been the most complicated part in the whole planning phase of the tournament?
The most difficult part has been the economic one: finding the sponsors to cover the budget of a tournament of these characteristics has been the part that has worried me the most from the beginning. But the truth is that I am very happy with the response of all the institutions and the sponsors and, today, I’m more relaxed in that sense.
And what has been the most rewarding part of all?
There are many. When you get a sponsor but, above all, everything related to the more visual part of the tournament, such as the tournament poster. When you see the poster you feel as if it were already a reality. I have been very excited to see everything related to the marketing and the visual image of the tournament.
Being able to organize a tournament here, with the Barcelona brand behind, in an environment like the RC Polo de Barcelona, with the support of public institutions and the Cruyff Foundation, is very powerful, isn’t it?
It is very important to have help from institutions. Both the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Diputació de Barcelona and also the City Council of Barcelona have had a fantastic response from the first moment when the project was presented to them and it is always very important to have this support from such powerful organisations like the Cruyff Foundation and the Royal Polo Club of Barcelona, which has been very supportive of this event and with which we have signed a three-year agreement. All this helps to have a very solid and well-established organization chart that both institutions and sponsors appreciate and it gives them extra confidence when it comes to backing a tournament of these characteristics.
How are you going to promote the tournament, how do you plan to get people to know about wheelchair tennis?
Different marketing and communication campaigns will be carried out. It’s an aspect that we want to take good care of in order to publicize the event and get the public to come and see us. We will have exposure in the city, with lamppost banners, billboards, and we will advertise it on one of the trams that runs along Diagonal Avenue with TRAM, our ‘naming’ sponsor. That’s a pretty powerful image and I think it will help us at the communication level. And then, obviously, through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the tournament website and we will also organize a couple of ‘street marketing’ actions to get the citizens of Barcelona to know the event and encourage them to come to the RC Polo to watch it.
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