Monday, May 20, 2024

BTA initiative to take tennis nation wide

In its bid to promote the sport of tennis in the country, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) will this coming weekend host a Tennis Open Day at the National Tennis Centre.

The project, which aims at increasing the popularity of the sport in the country, is under the BTA’s new initiative called “Taking Tennis to the People: “Tennis a Sport for All.”

Speaking in an interview, the project’s initiator, Nelson Amanze, said the aim of the project will be to dispel myths surrounding the sport, which hamper its development and growth.

“It is a fact that many local people know more about international tennis but are not aware that they can play the sport locally. They have the misplaced belief that tennis is a sport for white people, the rich or for people of some class. This project is intended to show them that tennis is a sport for everybody and can be played anywhere,” Amanze, who serves as the President of The Association of Southern African Tennis, said.

He says as such, the initiative, which will start in Gaborone, will be spread to other villages as time goes on.

“We will even go as far as places which do not have tennis courts. We will use whatever little space we see, even if it is a small concrete slab to play as we know that all that is needed is knowing how to place the nets and play the sport,” added Amanze, who also serves as the Vice President of the Confederation of African Tennis Zone V.

He says the idea behind the project is to give people knowledge on the basic skills of the game as well as to make BTA and tennis visible to the people.

“We intend to increase the number of community clubs in the country and this initiative is intended to spark interest from local people to join the sport and form clubs,” Amanze, who is also BTA’s Public Relations Officer, added.

As part of the project, Amanze says the BTA will be hoping to find enthusiasts who can be roped in to the development structures of the association. He says as such, those who show potential will be identified to be trained as development coaches and will be deployed in their respective communities and local schools. He says this will also reduce over reliance on teachers at schools, more especially during situations like the ongoing teacher/government standoff.

Apart from finding potential trainers, Amanze says the initiative will also be used to try and identify potential talent for future development. “One of the people spearheading this project is our Sports Development Officer, Mthandazo Sibanda, who is also part of our talent identification group. Our intention will be to see new talent and to come up with ways of retaining it such that it does not get lost to other more popular sports, like athletics and football,” Amanze added.

Meanwhile, Amanze says the initiative has sparked a lot of interest from local people and many are now seeking clarity on the initiative. “Most of them ask a lot of questions about what equipment they should bring when they come to the Open Day. Most of these people seek to know what they should wear, the shoes as well as the playing rackets,” Amanze said.

He says as this is an Open Day, people with no playing equipment like rackets are welcome as a plan will be made to ensure they take part. On other issues related to the development of the sport and taking it to the people, Amanze says the BTA is aiming at introducing wheel chair tennis in the near future to cater for the physically disabled.

Another initiative will be the Tennis School Strategy which will seek to resuscitate the sport in schools.


Read this week's paper