In an interview to Tuttosport, Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni revealed how the idea of creating an Academy named after the 17-time Grand Slam winner was born. "It was an idea by Sebastian, my brother and Rafa's father, it means a building a sports facility to promote the Nadal name around the world, but in the same time giving the chance to all the kids in Manacor and around to meet each other", said Toni.
"We opened it two years and a half ago and we are satisfied. Everything can be improved, obviously, but day after day the Academy grows giving guys to play sports while studying. Which Rafa, as a kid, could not do."
"I have always been maniacal about the Academy, I like to speak, give suggestions and be involved in a player's growth. I liked a lot to work with just an athlete, my nephew, but now I intensely live my pleasure to work with many guys.
The adrenaline you live from a player's box on the grounds, I miss that a lot, and I admit that seeing Rafa's matches on TV was tough during the first year." Asked what had been their biggest emotions lived together, Toni replied: "I got emotional seeing him winning a lot, the first and the tenth French Open or Wimbledon, but in my mind, I still have the image of seeing him playing at the Manacor Tennis Club as a 13-year-old."
Maria Julve Garrido, of the Group and Events of the Rafa Nadal Academy, said: "At the moment we have 140 guys who are from more than 30 different countries and five continents. Studying is not secondary at all. Guys are helped and they have to get results on the books as well, otherwise, they get fined.
Not everyone wants to become a tennis player, not everyone dreams about ATP or WTA Rankings: here some people want to study and play sports."