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BTA faces dilemma after loss of Motor Centre deal

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Tennis is looking for partnerships after the lapse of the Motor Centre deal
Sponsorship remains a challenge for Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) after parting ways with their long- term sponsor, Motor Centre Botswana.

BTA president, Oatsi Thipe said they are still lobbying sponsors to invest in tournaments.  Motor Centre has been the traditional sponsor of the Botswana Open.  Thipe said they intend to bring the sponsor back next year when they host the Botswana Open as an ITF professional tournament. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) points are expected to attract players from around the world, to take part in the tournament.

He said they lost the Motor Centre deal, as the tournament was not properly run, and had failed to attract top players, meaning there was insufficient mileage for the sponsor.

“Each international tournament attracts about 90 players coming from all over the world, so it is a business that is contributing to the economy. Players from as far as USA are already planning to come for our ITF events, so for companies that could sponsor these tournament it is a good marketing opportunity,” Thipe said.

Thipe was speaking ahead of the ITF Level 1 course that starts in Gaborone on Friday and ends on Sunday.

The course is expected to attract 16

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officials; six from Lesotho and two from Mozambique. From November 12 to 15, BTA will conduct a wheelchair training camp for coaches and players. A wheelchair expert from South Africa, Patrick Selema, is the facilitator. He said the officiating course is important because next year, the BTA will increase the duration of international tennis tournaments from two to six weeks, so they would need more officials to match the demand.

“By increasing the number of international tournaments, we are creating employment for the officials. It comes at a good time since one of our officials, Gaone Poane would be officiating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.

Thipe also said they expect Poane’s opportunity to inspire other officials. Meanwhile, tennis instructor, Illou Lonfo will be in Botswana at the end of this month to work with top local players and coaches.  He will be also assisting in setting up coaching structures for standardisation of local coaching. Lonfo is a technical director of the Ivory Coast Tennis Federation and has played in the junior Wimbledon.



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