The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
CORPORATE support is critical in improving the fortunes of junior sportspersons.
Cranrid Petroleum, which is funding the ongoing J5 Bulawayo Cranrid – ITF South Central Zim Legs 18 and under tennis tournaments, believes with more companies supporting junior development the results will show in good showings at senior level.
The company took the lead to become the first to fund an ITF tourney in the country.
Cranrid head of sales and marketing manager, Antone Mapingire said they appreciate the importance of junior development and are aware of the need to have more ITF tournaments being held locally.
He said with most tennis-playing kids being unable to travel outside the country to attend as many ITF tournaments to get ranking points, the onus was on local companies to fund these events.
“We took a deliberate step to fund the two-legged ITF under 18s in Bulawayo after being approached by Tennis Zimbabwe because we understand its critical to have these international tourneys as they provide our emerging talent with the opportunity to rake in points without having to bear huge travel costs. Young players also become more competitive as they constantly face top opposition from different countries.
“Most of the kids are unable to travel frequently enough to participate at tournaments and having them here at home makes it much easier for them,” he said.
“We understand that without rising higher in the ITF rankings their opportunities in the sport as they get older are lowered.”
Mapingire said hosting ITF events also aids sports tourism as they attract players from all over the world with the current tournament having players from Malaysia, United States, South Africa, Egypt, Cameroon, Namibia and Great Britain among others.
He said while big corporates find it easy to go for the big kill and sponsor events such as the Davis Cup where they will get quick returns in terms of mileage, it was critical to have a strong base of young players who are competitive and are not likely to fizzle out as they grow older.
Mapingire said they are engaging TZ on a long term programme that will be focused on the country’s provinces to ensure equitable development.
TZ president, Biggie Magarira said they were hoping to plug the loss of talent once players go beyond the age of 18.
“We need to see more players at senior level and we hope the higher they are ranked at junior level their chances of continuing are increased.
TZ administrator and tournament director, Clifford Nhokwara said increased sponsorship of local tournaments was also critical as it would give young players more time in the courts to improve on their game.