SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERTS LAUNCH WHEELCHAIR TENNIS IN BOTSWANA
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund, sponsored by the Cruyff Foundation for 2014/2015, has spread its wings to grow wheelchair tennis in Africa. The sport was launched by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa in conjunction with the Botswana Tennis Association in Gaborone over the weekend. This initiative makes Botswana the latest entrant to the local sporting fraternity.
The fund started in 2003 and 42 countries worldwide have benefited since its initiation. Botswana is now the 11th African country to benefit from the project.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa Director Holger Losch, Patrick Selepe and player ambassador Nyasha Mharakurwa conducted the second visit to Botswana on behalf of the ITF. The first visit was conducted in 2014. The visit entailed player clinics, meetings with coordinators and coach education.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa's Development Manager, Patrick Selepe said their aim is to spread the game across Africa and encourage young people living with disabilities to take up the sport. South Africa is the flagship country in Africa but believes it is important to spread the knowledge and grow the sport in other southern Africa countries such as Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Selepe said other countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria were active in wheelchair tennis, but they had not yet reached South Africa’s level. He said launching wheelchair tennis in Botswana would help players from Africa earn points and improve their global rankings in the sport. Selepe added that Wheelchair Tennis Botswana would affiliate to Botswana Tennis Association (BTA), and believes the country would host a wheelchair tennis tournament next year.
“Wheelchair tennis players need to participate in tournaments to improve their rankings and gain global exposure,” he said. He, however, added that to participate in Europe is costly, but noted the official launch of the sport would now enable Botswana to host its own tournaments. Selepe is ranked the third wheelchair tennis player in the country and 95th globally. As a Development Manager, his job is to mentor new players across South Africa. The wheelchair tennis star is also a coach and umpire.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R36-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme.