- Published on Saturday, 31 December 2011 20:12
- Written by PAUL JOHN
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FOURTEEN-year old tennis star Ibrahim Kessy is a happy teenager. His recent trip to Tanga with the pre-Simba Davis Cup team was the culmination of an eventful tennis season 2011.
With his improving forehand underlining on his growing tennis prowess, the young athlete can look back and forth with great optimism. Born and brought up in Dar es Salaam, the trip to the newly established tennis zone with the earmarked national tennis team came just at the right time.
Tanzania tennis is grouping up for a maiden appearance at the global stage come 2014, and a chance to be part of the team is high on every players’ agenda. Ibrahim feels that the timely visit by Italian Tennis expert Fabrizio Caldarone this year was a huge blessing to local tennis development.
The passion for the sport aside, he notes that the positive mentality that was previously lurking in the players’ circles was now translating into a strong asset. Confidence is evidently building up and the young athlete is convinced that more and regular build-up events would generate into the much needed experience around the young tennis players.
Success never comes overnight Ibrahim is one among hundreds of promising tennis athletes in the country. His developing tennis story can be shared in a single file among the growing tennis population. And just like the ancient city of Rome, success is a continuous affair and can never come overnight.
Juma Furaji, the Tanzania Tennis Association (TTA) Project Planner, hammers on a ‘Never Gives Up’ attitude saying local tennis was currently celebrating a huge achievement especially on year 2011. The telecom engineer says: “We are growing on the right path. Initially, we set our target to popularize the tennis game and increase the numbers up to the household levels.
Driven by a well focused Five Year Tennis Development Plan, nine regions namely Arusha, Tanga, Mwanza, Lindi Mtwara, Mbeya, Coast and Dar es Salaam as well as the Spice Islands were placed on the tennis development radar. About seventy primary schools reaching up to over 3,500 pupils were targeted.
It is a very ambitious plan that is divided into phases and the launched preparation of a Davis Cup Team for the 2014 season this year was a monumental stride towards the summit.” Mwanza opens up to tennis development As the TTA project planner digests, tennis is already in the Rock City courtesy of mining giants Barrick Gold.
Yes, and the summary confirms a little over two years of breathtaking consultations between the tennis development volunteer team and the school community at Isamilo International School in Mwanza. Sometimes towards the end of 2009, Tennis Tanzania and Barrick Gold entered the Rock City to a sumptuous welcome at the Isamilo International School.
The three parties were moved by a strong temptation to establishing a tennis centre that would tap talents in the entire Lake Zone. The alluring serenity in the vicinity was a huge inspiration as the team contested the prospects of bringing another region to the mainstream of tennis development.
And Barrick Gold was just more than willing to fund this promising initiative that would benefit a huge population of young stars in the expansive lake zone that stretches to Mara, Shinyanga and Kagera Regions. Today, as we read this testament, the first phase of the Mwanza tennis project is complete and two courts are ready to court a tennis community in the zone.
Efforts are already underway for the construction of another two courts to complement the already existing efforts. Corporate and individual partners increase involvement One of the biggest achievements so far at the tennis development circles is the mounting passion around the sport especially at junior level.
An estimated 3,000 young athletes have taken up the game of tennis not only as a social and networking platform but also at competitive levels. This can be attributed to the good partnership between development partners including corporate companies and individual sponsors and the national tennis body.
Top in the list of individual sponsors include QS Joseph Tango, the Managing Director of CQS Services whose annual involvement brings together about 105 young athletes to a competitive two days of networking at the Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club. For the sixth year running, the Tanga Cement Company through its giant brand Simba Cement has increased its sponsorship to tennis development from the initial sh 3,500 to the current USD 10,000.
This year, the company invested over 10m shillings on junior tennis development that climaxed with the hosting of the Simba Pre-Davis cup team in Tanga mid this month. And if the company’s Chief Financial Officer, David Lee, recent assertion is anything to go by, much is expected:
“We at Tanga Cement know the importance of sports in building not only a strong and healthier nation but also a wealthier population. We belief that with good support, Tanzania can do very well in individual sports like tennis.
That’s why I would like to call upon other companies and stakeholders to rally their support behind this promising The National sports Council Speaks out Dionis Malizi, the NSC Chairman was moved by the mammoth number of young stars who turned up to compete for honours at the BQ Open Junior Championship that was celebrating its third season at the Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club last month.
Malizi was gracing the opening ceremony and minced not a word when he said: “The involvement of former athletes in tennis development should underscore the efforts already on ground towards building a productive nation.” Speaking in the presence of Engineer John Bura, a former footballer and the MD for main sponsor BQ Contractors Limited, Malizi challenged former athletes to join hands and initiate sports academies in their respective regions and home districts.
While engineer Bura has committed his sponsorship towards helping young players in creating a balance between sports and academic performance, the NSC Chairman feels that much can be achieved if more young stars are brought under the same roofing.
He said: “Apart from grooming talents, the sports academy centres would keep the youth away from such vices as substance and sexual abuse. Everyone should get involved in bringing the youth to such health enhancing activities that would ultimately translate into a productive nation.