Former national team tennis player, Petrus Molefe, has embarked on a project to develop tennis in Botswana.
The former player has teamed up with Juice producers, Tropikana, to conduct tennis camps and competitions for kids to try and resuscitate the love of tennis in the country. Speaking in an interview with Sunday Standard, Molefe said the project, which started in the past year, was born out of a desire to see the sport grow.
“I have loved tennis since I was six years old. Seeing this sport die a slow death over the past few years has been very painful to me and this has led me to try resuscitating it,” the former national team player explained.
He said under the project, he will conduct training camps in various places around the country as well as organize competitions. Having been one of the stars when Botswana’s tennis seemed to be on the rise, Molefe said it is disheartening to see that the country seems to be digressing due to lack of interest from kids to take part in the sport.
“Considering the near highs we had during our era, I believe by this time Botswana should have had players who are better than we were. Unfortunately, this has not come to pass and rather we do not have top players. My intention therefore is to comb the country in search of new talent to take the sport forward,” the former national team player explained.
Armed with modern coaching skills, Molefe said this will be a pioneer project to try the latest coaching methods in tennis development and try putting a solid structure for tennis development locally.
“Tennis, just like any other sport, develops every day. Unfortunately, I think as a country we have not adapted and are still doing things the old fashioned way. We are still doing things the way we did while I was still a young player and this project will try and utilize the latest training methods to try develop new players,” he explained.
While not working with the BTA on the project, the former player said his work should not be taken as a slight to the tennis mother body but rather as a contribution towards the development of sport.
“My vision is to see us in the near future partnering with clubs under the BTA to help them grow, but this will depend on whether they are interested and if they are, they will have to go through the BTA to approve of such partnership,” the former local tennis star explained.
Meanwhile, Rick Braun, the representative of Tropikana Botswana, a company that has partnered Molefe in the project, said they will be in the project for a long time as they see it bearing fruit in future.
“We are doing this as part of our Community Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. We see this project as having potential to develop future stars,” Braun explained.
A former tennis player himself, Braun said after seeing Molefe’s proposal, they felt it was worthy of their help.
“Unlike in other countries, the problem in Botswana has always been a lack of focused development structure. This project is different as it offers a very solid development structure and has potential to unearth hidden talent in the country,” he said.
The Tropikana representative said it was this vision that led the company to continue its partnership with Molefe, even though there had been no mileage gained this far. “Actually, it was the terrific response we got in the past year and the passion that we saw that inspired us to continue in sponsoring this project,” Braun concluded.