Nino Severino: Great to welcome Martyn and Leoni Waghorn to our Baltacha Foundation family

Leoni Waghorn with the Serena and Venus Williams Vase and husband Martyn with two of the trophies wh

Leoni Waghorn with the Serena and Venus Williams Vase and husband Martyn with two of the trophies which will be presented at the Elena Baltacha Awards at Trinity Park in December. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

In his latest colum, NINO SEVERINO welcomes Ipswich Town star Martyn Waghorn and his wife Leoni to the team at the Elena Baltacha Foundation and discusses the work they do.

Leoni Waghorn in action at the Elena Baltacha Academy. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Leoni Waghorn in action at the Elena Baltacha Academy. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

If you happen to be living the life of a mum or dad supporting your child through their hopes and dreams of one day being a champion, you’ll know exactly how demanding this can be.

Sport is fantastic for children on so many levels, which I have written about in one of my previous columns, but if not handled properly it can present many challenges for both the child and their parents.

There are so many pitfalls – setting expectations too high, parents living their dreams through their children and thus putting way too much pressure on their child, often unwittingly.

I believe if handled properly the child and the parents can enjoy the experience – it can be fun, build self-esteem and confidence in the young athlete and even bring parent-child relationships closer together.


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Both Elena and I together worked very closely with our tennis parents, and as chairman of The Elena Baltacha Foundation, I now carry this work on and I have the responsibility of keeping my wife’s legacy alive through our foundation work.

We have recently officially developed a valuable relationship with our global governing body the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), they are responsible for running all the biggest tournaments that are played across the world.

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They have chosen to honour my wife’s legacy and work with us to support young girls through sport, which will enable us to take Elena’s vision and legacy to the next level.

This legacy is currently being nurtured by our foundation team – to enable us to support more girls and their parents we need to keep developing our team, and we have been very lucky in this department.

Ipswich Town star Martyn Waghorn tries his hand at tennis at the Elena Baltacha Academy. Picture: PA

Ipswich Town star Martyn Waghorn tries his hand at tennis at the Elena Baltacha Academy. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

We have recently welcomed Leoni and Martyn Waghorn into the Elena Baltacha Foundation family through the work we have carried out with them in terms of settling their son into tennis life in Ipswich.

Leoni is now pro-actively helping us lay the foundations for the next chapter of my wife’s legacy.

She is no stranger to the sporting world, having supported her husband, currently a star player for Ipswich Town, through the challenges of competing as a professional football player, and has, in her own right, experienced sport and fitness at a high level.

Leoni was a professional freestyle dancer and performed in many shows and competitions, and competed as a youth in hockey and rugby.

She has already committed to much charity work, being involved in the Prince’s Trust, and working in Sri Lanka with the World Challenge project to help rebuild schools and houses in the wake of the terrible Tsunami event.

Leoni will play an important role in our new project called “Bally’s Girls, Growing Through Sport”, and will help to deliver coaching and mentoring.

She will join our team as someone who will be a great role model – already a successful business woman and fitness professional, she can help our girls to be confident young athletes and develop positive self-esteem.

There are many negative influences in our modern world that continue to effect young girls in a negative way, many coming from the exposure to social media, poor diets and lack of exercise.

Leoni will be part of the highly qualified foundation team that will help us tackle these issues. She will play a part in our mentoring programme, relying on skills developed through her psychology course at Glasgow University, combined with being a level 3 personal trainer.

She is committed to promoting holistic all round health and wellbeing in young children and understands how important a healthy body and mind is for growing athletes.

Working with young girls to help them become independent women who have a strong sense of self-worth is extremely important to Leoni – and we are proud that she has picked my wife’s foundation to deliver this passion.

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