Lack of sponsorship threatens Emmly’s blossoming tennis career

08 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Lack of sponsorship threatens Emmly’s blossoming tennis career Emmly George

The Sunday News

Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
DESPITE picking up 11 gold medals from the 12 competitions she has taken part in this year alone, Emmly George’s tennis career is under threat because of lack of sponsorship.

The 11-year-old has picked up 120 medals since she started playing tennis at the age of six. In 2022, she has won 11 tournaments and been a runner-up in one competing at Under-14 as well as Under-14, yet her progress continues to be hampered by lack of financial resources. She is the number one ranked female tennis player in Zimbabwe at Under-12 level.

Just last month, the Bulawayo-based George won gold for Zimbabwe at the ITF/CAT Southern Africa Junior Teams’ Competition held in Maputo, Mozambique. She did so despite making the journey to the Mozambican capital city from Bulawayo via South Africa while some members of the Zimbabwean team flew straight from Harare to Maputo.

Families of players have to fund the travelling because Tennis Zimbabwe cannot do so despite that being the responsibility of the national association which also makes athletes pay US$76 for tracksuits when most of the sporting codes provide clothing for players going on national duty.

At the beginning of last year, her family thought their prayers had been answered when they signed a sponsorship deal with 12k energy, a Zambia company, whose chief executive officer Blessing Chitsenga is a Zimbabwean.

The sponsorship was meant to cover transport, accommodation and general upkeep but the sponsor never delivered when she took part in four tournaments in South Africa. She was left stranded together with her father and they were rescued by well-wishers but that has since messed things up for the youngster since the family still has to clear debts accrued then.

Emmly’s father Mkhululi who also serves as her coach said the family is struggling to continue funding the youngster’s blossoming tennis career because they do not have the financial muscle.

“The family has no financial capacity to carry the heavy load that tennis comes with, have had to rely on friends and well-wishers in fulfilling Emmly’s dream. We are a family of faith and it’s been our pillar of hope each time, travelling on shoe string budgets has been our plight but the passion and joy Emmly has for the sport has made us push the extra mile,’’ the father said.

For the trip to Mozambique, Brooklyn Bus Service came to her rescue as they provided a return ticket for George and her father to and from South Africa.

According to the father, they have approached many companies but the biggest challenge they face is that most of them indicate that they do not sponsor individuals, which means the youngster’s talent might go to waste if no sponsorship is secured.

Some of the tournaments George is meant to take part in this year include the TenPro in Egypt in July, with trips to France and Switzerland also lined up for August.

What her family is crying out for is long-term sponsorship so that the youngster can reach elite level performance. — Follow on Twitter @Mdawini_29

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