The Botswana Tennis Association has organized a school holiday camp while government schools are on break.
The camp gathered 86 kids ranging between the ages of 8 to 18 from six regions, which include Gaborone, Francistown, Selibe Phikwe, Kweneng and Lobatse regions.
The camp kicked off on Tuesday and ended on Saturday and was sponsored by John Pickeles and Sons. The tournament will be used as a scrutinizing measure for the effectiveness of the holiday camp, seeking ways to improve it in the future.
Boikobo Gaolebale, the association’s youth technical director is of the view that the camp has enjoyed more attendance than previous ones, adding that even the level of competitiveness has improved tremendously. He explained that the coaching clinics that the association had run for teachers at schools are evidently starting to bear fruit.
He said, previously, teachers were not equipped enough to impart quality skills to their students but that has since improved. He also praised teachers for their growing interest in the sport. He said teachers used to only accompany students to camps and did not have any meaningful impact on the tournament.
Boikobo further said that interest in the sport had grown and attributed that to the many tennis courts the government has built.
“Government is giving us full support because of the constructions of tennis courts in recent years, and this provided us with enough facilities, which augurs well with our long term development plan,” he said.
He also revealed that the kids were transported from their various regions by mostly council buses and vehicles from other governmental organisations. However, there was confusion ahead of the camp as most regions, especially as school officials had thought BTA would be providing transportation but that turned out not to be the case at the eleventh hour. This resulted in some schools not being able to send kids to the camp. Gaolebale added that most schools always gather their students well in time and their preparedness for tournaments and camps are impressive.
He also stressed that School Headmasters have started taking the sport seriously as they are now more willing to release funds towards tennis than in the past when they would give precedence to only football. Bokobo also told the Sunday Standard that his association is slowly changing people’s mindsets that tennis is not only an urban sport as regions in rural areas are faring relatively well. He revealed that in future, the camps will also be held in the different regions to ease the financial pressure on some regions, adding that currently that is inhibited by lack of facilities in some regions.
Gaborone and Phikwe seem to be ahead of others as their students always do well against opponents from other regions.
The two regions are home to tennis’s only training centers and are under the stewardship of Umthadazo Sibanda and Wellington Sibanda, for Gaborone and Phikwe respectively. Francistown, which could otherwise be the next training center, is being crippled by limited facilities. Another inhibiting factor is the lack of manpower, but Boikobo expressed hope that, with more coaching clinics, that should be a thing of the past.
The John Pikeles and Sons Sponsorship was expected to provide medals for the Saturday Tournament and even vouchers for the overall best female and male performers.