US padel stars in Rome Andrea Samson and Anderson Good
They will be ‘sports ambassadors’ as part of the US State Department’s ‘Sports Diplomacy’ programme.
They will play with young people with disabilities, frail people, students and diplomats as witnesses of inclusion, solidarity, women empowerment and healthy lifestyle
Rome, 13 November 2023
From 13 to 17 November, the Embassy of the United States to the Holy See and Athletica Vaticana, the official multi-sports association of the Holy See, will welcome “Sports Envoys” Andrea Samson and Anderson Good, professional padel athletes from the United States, to offer a concrete experience of the most authentic sporting values, including inclusion, fraternity and solidarity.
Tuesday 14 November: the “Villa Pamphili Padel Club” (via della Nocetta 107) will host Andrea and Anderson’s meetings with young people with disabilities (in particular with Down’s Syndrome and autism – accompanied by the “Padelmania per il sociale” Association and the “Siamo delfini-Impariamo dall’autismo” Association), fragile people taken in by the Caritas of Rome, students from the “Magarotto” State Institute for Specialised Education for the Deaf, young people from the “21 Luglio” Association and diplomats. From 4.30 p.m. for clinics and matches; Wednesday 15 November: General Audience with the Holy Father; Thursday, 16 November: Andrea and Anderson will visit the ‘Magarotto’ State Institute for Specialised Education for the Deaf, on the outskirts of Rome, to meet deaf students in person and talk together about issues of inclusion, also through sporting passion. With clinics and demonstrations; Friday 17 November: together with the ’21 Luglio’ Association, Andrea and Anderson will go to the Polo ex-Fienile in Tor Bella Monaca, a district on the outskirts of Rome: the focus of the meeting will be on the empowerment of young women and how sport can be a real tool for social growth for the most marginalised and vulnerable communities.
“Sports Diplomacy” is an initiative of the United States Department of State: athletes and coaches from various sports federations collaborate with Embassies and Consulates all over the world to spread, especially among young people, the culture of sport as an experience of inclusive solidarity in respect of diversity. In this context, the ‘Sports Envoy’ programme features athletes who personally bear witness to the founding and most authentic values of sport. More than 300 ‘Sports Envoys’, representing 24 different sports disciplines, have so far participated in this international initiative of social and cultural promotion.
The Embassy of the United States to the Holy See and Athletica Vaticana share and relaunch – with this initiative – the vision of sport, proposed by Pope Francis, as a tool to build bonds of friendship and solidarity among people, in the spirit of “team” and making sure that no one is excluded or left behind. In particular, padel is an inclusive sporting experience, as witnessed by the fact that people with physical and intellectual-relational disabilities and people housed in the Caritas reception centres in Rome have also joined the initiative. And it is in this style that Athletica Vaticana is an official member of the International Padel Federation.
Having grown up playing tennis, Andrea Samson has a wealth of experience in padel: she is ranked fifth in the US national rankings and played for the US National Team at the World Cup in Dubai in 2022. Selected as a first-round pick by the Toronto Polar Bears, she won the 2022 Pan-American Tournament representing the United States and played in the inaugural season of the 2023 Pro Padel League. Along with other US women players, she is committed to promoting padel by inspiring women to play more tournaments with the goal of achieving equal participation with men, aiming for full equality. She was a tennis coach for seven years and has been a padel coach for the past year. She is a volunteer at Feeding South Florida & Hermanos de La Calle, an association that helps people and families in need. Born and raised in Asuncion, Paraguay, she lives in Miami, Florida.
Anderson Good has a long career as a squash player and coach. He started playing padel in 2020 and, thanks to his experience with squash, quickly established himself at a high level. At St. Lawrence University, Anderson delved into the relationship between politics, diplomacy and sport, especially in his thesis for his master’s degree in political science. His experiences with international teams in university squash – at both St. Lawrence and George Washington University, 75 per cent of the players come from Egypt, Colombia, Kuwait, Canada, Jamaica, Pakistan and Ireland – allowed Anderson to recognise the value of sport not as an end in itself but also as an opportunity to achieve high goals through dialogue with people of different cultures and religions.