Dani Caverzaschi, 29, is the 11th wheelchair tennis player in the world to take part in his first Grand Slam at Roland Garros. The Spaniard was born with leg defects and struggles to normalize the disability. Thus, in parallel with his career as a professional player, with the help of one of his sponsors, Arrow, he developed an application to help him move through the streets of Paris.
Meeting in front of gate 50 of Roland-Garros with Dani Caverzaschi. Big smile, with sportswear in his wheelchair, the Spaniard grabs his phone to launch the “Wheelway” app, still a prototype. “It’s a travel app that shows you how to get from point A to point B in a city. And it offers you different routes, as accessible as possible.” Type “National Training Center of the French Tennis Federation”. “It’s 200 meters from here, and here’s the easiest way to get there.”
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On the phone, everything is displayed as “waze”, the application for motorcyclists: the path to follow, directions, directions. “Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. He starts the road, the phone in his left hand, his right hand to push himself. “For example, if I find an obstacle, I can add it. I go to the app, I add it, I put what it is, a hole, a post and I put the difficulty level. And like that, all users will do it. See that there is an obstacle in this place. And here the app tells me that there are two small steps, but that there is another possible path going right, then we go right. “
“It makes sense that we make this app for Paris 2024”
At the moment, this application, developed with Arrow, a company specializing in electronics, is not operational. The release is scheduled for two years on a symbolic date. “In Paris in 2024 there will be the Paralympic Games, an event that exposes people with disabilities. And so it makes sense that we make this application for Paris 2024, where it will be echoed, it will be an amazing event,” explains Dani. Caverzaschi. Victor Gao, vice president of Arrow, has been working with the player for five years: “If you live without a disability, the obstacles are easy to overcome. But for Dani Caverzaschi, it’s not. It helped a lot at this point. physical and mental aspects were very important in the design of the application “. “Wheelway” will only be available in Paris at first. “I’ve been to Paris many times, it’s an amazing city, very historic and has a lot of accessibility issues like other European capitals because of that. I lived in the United States so I find it easy to compare. And here, there are cobblestones, climbing is sometimes difficult for a person in a wheelchair ”.
With this application, Spanish hopes to be able to help many people with disabilities. “If I need help on the street, I don’t care, I ask where I have my friends to help me. My disability doesn’t affect my life. That’s how I am, I adapt and that’s fine. But a lot of people. No. so the problem is that they don’t go out or are afraid to go because they know they won’t find accessible places. It limits their lives, “said the player. Therefore, it wants to make the capital as accessible as possible. “During the Paris Olympics there will be many tourists and some with disabilities. And it is also important that the city, like Paris, has more accessibility, that these people can go to places where they can enjoy, visit, go. To a restaurant.” .
“This app will save my life”
Originally from Madrid, however, it is Paris that has a very special place in his heart. Already, on the sports side, he who has played many sports. Specifically, he skied competitively until the age of fourteen before dedicating himself permanently to tennis. “In the Grand Slams (in the wheelchair tennis category), only the top 12 in the world play. It was difficult to qualify but I got it. So I will play my first Grand Slam match. And for a Spaniard, clay, when you know what Rafael Nadal has done here, and other Spanish players, it’s obviously important to us. For me, it’s special that my first Grand Slam is Roland Garros. “
Achieving his dreams, living his passion, the 29-year-old Spaniard, eleventh in the world, feels lucky. And so today. he wants to take advantage of his sports career to come up with a project like this. “What I’m trying to fight is disability, physical disability, it’s like any other problem, we all have them. Mine is physical and it looks, sometimes people feel sorry for me, and often people with disabilities don’t realize it’s there. There are so many things you can do. Being a tennis player gives me visibility and this project with Arrow, I hope, will change a lot for these people. “
“Wheelway” should revolutionize travel for people with reduced mobility; Dani Caverzaschi believes: “It will save my life and hope for other people as well. When there is a pedestrian crossing 50 meters away but I can’t go because it’s too narrow, I have to turn around. This app will save time. and energy “. And although it will only be launched in Paris at the moment, the goals are much higher later: “First, we focus on Paris and I hope it comes to Madrid, which is very close to my heart and someday everywhere. And the ultimate goal is to normalize disability, which we see people with disabilities on the street as normal people, because statistically they represent 50% of society, and I want these people, anywhere in the world, to live with normalcy. “