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Federer makes tsunami visit to Cuddalore
December 22, 2006 21:00 IST
Impressed with his first visit to India, world No 1 tennis player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer said he would visit the country again and try and garner more assistance for the tsunami victims.
After spending nearly 45 minutes at an orphanage in Cuddalore, Chennai, the nine-time Grand Slam champion said he would devote more time for social service.
"I would rather step in early than late. I am in the prime of my career. I am making so much money and I realize how lucky I have been.
"I have been trying to tell them (the children) that I shall always be there for them. This is my first trip to India� has been great. I will come back," said Federer, who was in the city as a part of the UNICEF tsunami recovery programme.
However, a drama surrounded the tennis superstar's visit as UNICEF, which organised the visit, did not allow local media persons, except for a few from the 'international media,' to interact with the Swiss ace.
After a few minutes of heated exchange, the local press persons, who had been waiting for an hour, were allowed to meet the tennis ace.
Federer, who refrained from fielding any question on tennis, said he made some good friends during his visit to India.
"Kids are the future. I inspire them and in turn they inspire me. I have made some really good friends here today. I spent quite sometime with the children. I know what their names are, what they study," he said.
"I am happy to see happy faces in all the kids here...both young and old. It's nice to see that a great programme is happening here. You can be proud of the government and the people and UNICEF who have helped in this," he added.
To another query, he said he was in Dubai when the tsunami occurred and was very emotional when he saw it on television.
"We tried our best to raise as much money possible on the ATP tour that time," he said.
Earlier, Federer visited the Integrated Child Development Scheme Centre (ICDS) at Thazhanguda village, where he met school children, who displayed their puppetry skills. He was accompanied by his girlfriend and manager Miroslava Mirkaa Vavrinec, a former WTA player.
He later left for Villupuram, where he would take part in an HIV Education Programme. He will visit Kinnur Pudupettai in Cuddalore on Saturday to oversee developmental works done for the tsunami victims and interact with children.