"HELP SAVE TENNIS IN ZAMBIA!" Top 5 Page for this destination Lusaka Travelogue by Kid-A
Lusaka Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 140 photos
This page is dedicated to all the tennis players at the Matero Boys' Secondary School. Matero is a low-income community in northern Lusaka, the capital city of the country Zambia in southern Africa.
For work, I was attending a conference in Lusaka, and as is my routine when traveling to a new country, I looked up tennis in Zambia. I found a website entitled, “Helping Zambia's Young Tennis Players.” The site is located at http://zambiatennis.org/.
So I sent them an e-mail and received a reply from Niza, a Zambian tennis player living in the U.S. He and a few others are now attempting to rescue his country’s tennis program. I told him I’d be happy to spend a couple days helping out with some coaching for the kids there in Lusaka. And that’s what I did.
First, let me say that I had no idea what to expect. This is their national-level tennis, but it’s Africa. And due to some past miss-management, the program is in horrible disrepair. Those working the issues these days are young guys doing it completely voluntarily. They are tennis enthusiasts who want to see their country return to its glory days – when they were a feared opponent in competition in southern Africa.
The program is located at the secondary school there in Matero, where Brother Carmine of the Christian group ‘Marians’ presides over the school and also happens to be a big tennis fan. He was out at the tennis courts when I arrived the first day. A really nice guy, he was just happy to have me out there and asked how much time I could give. I told Walter, one of the Zambian volunteers that I unfortunately only had 2 days available. He said something I won’t soon forget.
He said, “It may only be 2 days to you, but these kids will remember you for their whole lives.”
Again, I was not prepared for what I was in for.
The tennis courts were just rough road pavement, giving the ball a very high and unpredictable bounce. Coming from my nice, fast German indoor carpet courts, I wasn’t able to get used to it in the short time I played there. I found that having these awful conditions actually made the kids stronger players though. They attacked the ball with compact swings, because any other style of play just wouldn’t work out there!
The kids – there were about 30 of them out there to divide between 2 courts – played with a fervor and a desire I haven’t seen since training very poor Russian kids.
These kids absorbed everything I said and went through the routines of the drills on that pavement like EVERY shot mattered. And many of them do not own shoes!
The official program lists more than 200 kids enrolled in the program. To train them, there are 4 guys who show up in their free time after or before work to give 5 or 6 hours a week each to the kids.
It nearly brought me to tears to see so much talent and so little opportunity. I guess that’s a story common throughout many parts of Africa. But to see it up close really brings it home.
I encourage anyone visiting Africa to take a day or two out of your itineraries of safaris and sightseeing to check around for a volunteer opportunity such as this. It’s rewarding beyond imagination!
As for myself, I’m organizing some care packages of rackets, balls and various other equipment to send down to the school. It’s really the least I can do. And just in case you read this and want to help the kids in Matero as well, contact me or go to that website up at the top and send Niza an e-mail. He can get you some more information.
In any case, enjoy the photos and I hope my Zambian pages help you!
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