|Local tennis umpire at Wimbledon|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 14:11|
Sports CorrespondentONE of Zimbabwe’s prolific tennis umpires, Ngoni Chang Kufa, continues to fly the country’s flag high as he is part of the officials at the current Wimbledon Open, which ends today.
Kufa has been one of the chair umpires throughout the prestigious tennis event in the world.
The grass court tournament features the best in the world of tennis and the fact that Kufa has been appointed to officiate throughout the tourney is a testimony of his credibility. In an interview on Facebook, Kufa said umpiring at Wimbledon has been one of the greatest experiences in his tennis career.
“It’s always great to be at Wimbledon. Although there is pressure because of the magnitude of the tournament I have become adept umpiring with ease,” he added.
Kufa had his first flirtation with Wimbledon in 1997, when he was tasked with umpiring in the qualifying stages as a line umpire. The Bulawayo-born tennis official will also be officiating at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games, which kick off later this month. Kufa will also be taking part in the Olympics as a Coventry Ambassador.
Coventry Ambassadors are volunteers assisting in the ushering of visitors during the run of the London Olympics. Kufa burst into the world of officiating in 1992 after being invited to umpire at the Barcelona Olympics in Spain.
He was the first Zimbabwean to officiate at such a high evel and during the Barcelona Games he was one of the two officials from Africa. From 1992, Kufa’s star kept on rising in the world of umpiring and he was part of the officials at the 1994’s edition of the Alon Khakshouri Men’s Satellite Circuit held in Israel. He received rave reviews for his officiating during that tourney, with recommendations that he be elevated from Level Two to Level Three. During his tenure as Matabeleland Tennis Coaches Association chairman, Kufa held several coaching courses that assisted in the spreading of the game in the mid to late nineties.
Kufa, alongside Van Ray Nathoo, were the only International Tennis Federation (ITF) certified coaches during that time and were both actively involved conducting and facilitating courses for local coaches.
After breaking through to umpiring in Grand Slams in 1997 he went on to officiate at several high profile events including the Australian Open and US Open although his travels were then inhibited by lack of sponsorship as he had to pay for his airfares.
Kufa moved to Coventry, England in 2002.