Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) over the weekend held the play and stay course at Notwane grounds Gaborone.
The course is one of four in the internationally certified individual tennis coaching training programs focusing mainly at grassroots development.
According to the course director and national play and stay tutor, Aobaakwe Lekang, the aim is to provide more accredited and qualified coaches in schools and clubs around the country.
“The association along with the Botswana tennis coaches commission is looking to have all tennis coaches in schools, clubs and tennis bodies having a minimum qualification of play and stay or national officiating certificate for them to be eligible to conduct the relevant tennis activities,” Lekang says.
He says the BTA’s hope is that this will lead to more organised training and activities such as tournaments and camps as structures will have skilled personal conducting these activities.
The former junior tennis initiative coordinator says the course is mainly directed at grass courts development, ideally for beginner coaches, tennis teachers and tennis parents to attend the course.
“We are trying to get more teachers and parents to participate in the sport to be educated about tennis as a sport and what it entails to be a coach. Our aim is to have at least one teacher/coach per primary school across the country,” he says.
Lekang says the course is a part of the BTA’s Long Term Athlete Development strategy which it developed with the help of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC).
The LTAD was first drafted in 2018. It was only finalized this past year and was then immediately implemented.
When the course started in October last year, its first participants were mostly teachers from Primary and Junior Secondary schools.
It was a little different for this year however as about half of the 20 course participants in Gaborone are former and current national junior and senior team players.
Whereas the course was initially conducted once a year, due to covid-19 and the restrictions of movement across zones, the association has decided to conduct two courses.
The other course will be hosted in Francistown from 11th to the 14th of September. Lekang says their hope is that the course will start to be hosted twice every year from now onwards.
Meanwhile, for the first time in the history of tennis in Botswana, the course attracted a record number of women, a first for the BTA.
Seven out of 20 participants were women, something which the BTA believes is an indication that women are slowly developing interest in not only playing the sport but also in coaching it.
BTA says over the years, participation of women in its courses has been fairly low. the recent turnout has now given the association hope that its endeavours to promote and boost female participation will bear some fruit.
The president of BTA, Oaitse Thipe says he is happy with the turn out of the women for the course. He says while a number of seven looks minimal, to them ‘it marks a start of something great.’
“On the demonstrate BTA’s commitment is to increase the number of women coaches in the country. We have a lot of women coaches taking part in this course in Francistown as compared to Gaborone our wish is have more women take part all across the country,” Thipe says.