ATA In The Press

Over the years, various magazines, newspapers and publications have been good enough to print news and articles about Africa Tennis Aid and the opportunities available to volunteers to go to Africa with their tennis skills and make a postive lasting impression to deprived communties in the Third World - Thank You!

 

Here's a selection of articles and news clippings from the archives over the years for you to look at 

UK Tennis Magazine October 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have racket, will travel: Taking tennis to the world
By Chris Murphy, CNN
May 19th, 2011

 


"We were able to give the kids who had never had the chance a bit of a stepping stone; [they'd] never picked up a racket, [they were] total raw talent."

So says Sal Bolton, one of an emerging breed of tennis missionaries whose aim is to inspire a love for the game in impoverished communities around the globe.
In remote corners of the world lies an untapped wealth of potential, gradually being explored by those hoping to forge new frontiers for tennis.

Bolton's decision to pack up her racket and head for Ghana embodies a pioneering spirit matched by James Moult's stay in the townships of South Africa and typified by Dan O'Connell's 15-year tennis mission in Fiji.

"It was too good an opportunity to pass up," Sal told CNN of her trip to Ghana. "For one thing, I could get to go to Africa but with a purpose.

"I could combine that with making a positive difference in that part of the world -- I wanted to experience Africa not just from a tourist point of view and I wanted to help by offering my skills."

She certainly did that, and even arrived in the country armed with tennis equipment donated from people back in the UK through her charitable appeal, Ghana Tennis Aid.

Through Sporting Opportunities, who specialize in volunteer travel, Sal joined a small group of coaches at Ghana's National Sports College in Winneba, an hour from the capital Accra.

There she helped train the national junior squad as well as inspire local schoolchildren, who would turn up after lessons to play until the sun went down.

"I think regardless where you live or whatever your background may be, everyone deserves the same opportunity to at least try a sport," she said.

"I was pretty impressed by the standard of play but the facilities and lack of equipment I found undeserving to them -- some courts didn't even have a net."

If Sal can claim to have ignited a passion for tennis in a remote part of Ghana, Dan O'Connell's can boast a 15-year dedication to growing the sport in the Pacific



"We have champions out here in the developing world and we need to give them opportunities to move forward in life"
--Dan O'Connell



Dan first began coaching tennis in the 1970s when he joined the Peace Corps in Lesotho, teaching among others, the man who is now king of the landlocked African country.

Dan swapped Africa for a development role with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in Fiji in the early 1990s and has laid down a legacy that he hopes will serve youngsters in the region for years to come.

By establishing a Regional Tennis Center and, with the help of sponsorship from ANZ bank, setting up a mini-tennis program he now serves 20,000 primary school children in the Pacific Oceania region.

Twenty two young people have gained scholarships to colleges in the United States through programs that Dan runs and he is in no doubt as to the positive influence the game can have.

He told CNN: "We have changed the lives of many, giving them a better future through tennis. We keep them out of the clutches of other activities and we lead them towards a better future. Our kids become future leaders.

"We have champions out here in the developing world and we need to give them opportunities to move forward in life. I have gained great personal pleasure seeing the successes we have created."

Dan says the expertise that volunteers from the developed world offer is invaluable and must be retained if the sport is to grow around the globe.



"I think regardless where you live or whatever your background, everyone deserves the opportunity to try a sport"
--Sal Bolton

 

 

"We can no longer expect too many people to work year after year as a volunteer when they struggle to make ends meet," he explained. "I worry if we do not address this issue, we will be losing important people who have volunteered for many years.

"All sports will need to address this issue in the future. It is great to have volunteers from the developed world to visit the developing world to provide volunteer service (like my beginning). However, within the developing world we need to find a way to pay more local experts in order to grow sports."

Like Sal, James Moult headed to Port Elizabeth in South Africa through Sporting Opportunities.

"There were very few children that had ever held a racket never mind play tennis before, mainly because they had never had the opportunity to do so," he told CNN.

A lack of basic facilities in the townships meant James was forever conducting his sessions on makeshift courts with fold-up nets. After a chaotic, exuberant start, James and his team began to incorporate important messages about HIV into his sessions.

"Even if one child learns absolutely nothing about tennis per se but learns how to be more respectful towards other people or how to work better in a team then that is a job well done," he said.

"I believe that sport as a whole is far more than just teaching them how to play - it is about getting them involved in an activity together, working as a team and through sport you can teach them so much more than just the sport itself."

Back in Fiji, Dan is soon to call time on his tennis coaching career after 35 years of loyal service to the game and he firmly believes it is the responsibility of the developed world to help their smaller neighbors.

 

"I hope the bigger nations of the world continue to provide the smaller poor nations opportunities. Champions of the world should be supported, if you are from England, the USA or even smaller nations like Lesotho or Fiji." 

 

Tennis Life UK Magazine March/April 2008

Tennis Today Magazine and British Tennis Magazine March 2008