The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA)’s weeklong camp for its developmental players came to an end yesterday (Saturday).
The camp, which started on the 28th of last month, had attracted at least 100 student athletes from the BTA satellite training centres across the country.
Speaking in an interview, BTA’s Sports Development Officer, Mthandazo Sibanda, said the training camp is part of the associations Talent Identification Development, which is the BTA structure aimed at identifying and developing talent.
“This is part of our ongoing programme to develop tennis from the grassroots and is online with the country’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme, which aims at developing elite athletes as well as making sport accessible to all for health and fitness,” Sibanda said.
According to Sibanda, the training camp is conducted by a team of qualified coaches who are also responsible for tennis development in the country.
“We have at least three internationally qualified coaches as well as teachers who have been trained by the BTA to help train the students during the camp,” the BTA Sports Development Officer added.
The training camp provided students from centres without internationally qualified coaches a chance to upgrade their training ahead of the Electric Junction tournament, which is due to start tomorrow as well as the Botswana Games, which will start in a fortnight.
He says the training camp as well as the two competitions that will follow thereafter will also help accelerate the players’ development more so as the country seeks to develop elite players to represent the country in future.
“Research shows that for a player to be developed into an elite athlete, he should have done at least 12┬á000 hours of good training. We have, therefore, come up with a plan to organise training camps for our junior athletes during holidays or school vacations as well as to organise as many developmental tournaments to give these young athletes the much needed training and exposure,” Sibanda added.
The BTA Sports Development Officer says the training camp, coupled with the two successive tournaments, will account for three weeks of development which bodes well for tennis.
Meanwhile, Sibanda says he believes tennis is now developing very well in the country. As one of the first sporting codes to come up with its own version of LTAD, the BTA Sports Development Officer says the sport is already reaping rewards for its athlete development endeavours.
“Our junior champion for the Botswana Games is a fifteen-year-old girl by the name of Gorata Keabile. She is a product of our Phuthadikobo Primary School satellite training centre in Molepolole where she started training at the age of nine,” he added.
He says they have also made the sport more accessible to a lot of people, which he believes will go a long way to dispelling the myth that the sport is for rich people.