Tennis coaches around South Africa have sent an SOS to the government because many have fallen on hard times due to loss of income during the national lockdown. Photo: Reuters/Tom Brenner
Tennis coaches around South Africa have sent an SOS to the government because many have fallen on hard times due to loss of income during the national lockdown. Photo: Reuters/Tom Brenner

Tennis coaches issue plea to Mthethwa

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published Jun 14, 2020

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Tennis coaches around South Africa have sent an SOS to the government because many have fallen on hard times due to loss of income during the national lockdown.

For some coaches, loss of earnings has meant losing a home because they could not pay rent. For the past two months, they were stripped of their income.

And many of these coaches are their family’s sole or primary breadwinner.

Over the weekend, several destitute coaches joined forces to compile a YouTube video in which they shared their plight.

The clarion call by the 37 coaches was directed mainly at the Minister of Sports Nathi Mthethwa.

“My situation is dire at this point,” said Amos Magagula, who is based at the Polokwane Tennis Club in Limpopo. He is also the national under-14 team coach.

“We can’t be out there coaching and that has affected our households in a negative way.

“I have a baby that I am responsible for and now I can’t even attend to his basic needs.

“My wife also lost her job due to this pandemic so you can imagine the strain we are experiencing.

“We were forced to move out of our home because I can no longer afford rent.

“My plea to the honourable minister is to allow tennis coaches to go back to work. Tennis is not a contact sport and we will implement social distancing and the government’s guidelines.

“We ask this with the greatest humility. Please allow us to go back to work so we can provide for our families.”

Johny Msimanga is a coach at the northern KwaZulu-Natal school St Dominic’s Newcastle. He has appealed to Mthethwa to allow him to earn a living.

“I am struggling to pay my bills and I can’t even buy groceries for my family.

“Dear minister, the tennis court is 23.77m long, that means players won’t touch each other.

“I am one of many coaches who are struggling to make ends meet. Please relax lockdown rules, so we can earn a living.”

Tshwane coach Liza-Mari Olivier is gutted that even after 10 weeks of complying with the law she was still not allowed to generate an income.

“I am a single woman living on my own and rely on income by coaching tennis,” said Olivier.

“The current situation has taken away my human dignity because I don’t have money to pay rent. I have used my savings to buy essential goods such as food and electricity.

“And even after 10 weeks of complying with the law I am still not allowed to generate an income.

“I don’t coach Lloyd Harris or Kevin Anderson. I coach young kids that I have worked hard with for the past three years.

“They have reached a stage where they finally have a chance to obtain a top 10 ranking in South Africa.

“All that hard work is now being dismantled and disrespected only because these young players are not considered professional.

“I am a responsible professional who knows how to follow measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, there was a ray of sunshine on the tennis landscape on Monday when Tennis South Africa (TSA) and BNP Paribas announced the continued sponsorship of the third annual BNP Paribas Coaches' Mentorship Programme.

The initiative has served to widen the diversity of tennis coaches, particularly those from historically disadvantaged communities. It teaches skills and issues licences to develop tennis in all South African communities.

Sunday Independent 

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