Allen Khumalo, Sports Reporter
DISGRUNTLED parents of tennis players that qualified for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Africa Junior Championships to be held in Benoni, South Africa, from March 26 to April 5 have raised concerns over lack of support by Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ), which has forced them to fund their children’s participation in regional and international events.
The parents said it was high time TZ put its house in order and looked for sponsorship as they cannot continue bailing out the association by personally funding their children.
In order for a child to participate in the junior championships in South Africa, parents are required to fork out an estimated $500 for transport, accommodation, air tickets, coaches’ tickets and coaches’ allowances.
“It really boggles the mind that we have to fork out money from our own pockets for our children to represent the country at regional competitions. We have been paying for ourselves for a long time now and I think it’s high time the association looked for sponsorship because we can’t keep on doing this.
We can’t be funding ourselves while our children are representing the country,” said one parent.
Another parent said: “I want my child to excel that’s why I keep on paying, but this has gone too far. We would understand if it was a local competition, but at regional level TZ should up their game and contribute something.
“These guys are just good at announcing that they are sending athletes to regional tournaments while they are doing nothing.”
TZ official Cliff Nhokwara said the association was facing financial difficulties, hence the need for parents to assist.
“This is not a new thing; parents have always paid for their own children in such competitions. We know it’s a national responsibility to do that, but due to limited resources we ask parents to chip in.
“TZ has always been struggling for a long time, but we can’t stop playing due to that. This is a struggle for all of us that’s why we need to meet at least half way,” said Nhokwara.
“As a way of countering such problems, we have asked parents through their respective regional chairpersons to do some fundraising activities. That way we won’t have such challenges. It’s so unfortunate that parents have to suffer, but we all need to sacrifice for the development of our sport,” he said.
Last year, TZ sent emails to participants of the ITF/CAT Southern Africa Zonal Championships that was held in Windhoek, Namibia, from January 8-19 asking parents to pay $800 for the trip.
The parents were to pay for air ticket ($450), coaches’ tickets ($75), coaches’ allowances ($120) and for tracksuits and playing kits ($110).
Zimbabwe will have eight players in the championships to be held in Benoni, Claire Machisa, Ethan Sibanda, Taona Mwandagara, Rufaro Magarira, Vimbai Moyo, Charlotte Zhuwakini, Anesu Kwirirai and Thabo Ncube.
By participating at the AJC, Team Zimbabwe stands a chance to qualify for the Junior Davies Cup, Junior Fed Cup and even make it for the World Teams.