Malawi will next year host a Confederation of African Tennis (CAT)-sanctioned competition upon completion of the National Tennis Centre (NTC) at Country Club Limbe (CCL) in Blantyre.
CAT vice-president Nelson Amanze said this at CCL on Friday during the ground-breaking ceremony of the country’s first-ever tennis centre, to be constructed in the next six months.
“This centre will not only enhance the performance of Malawi players through training but also through a number of prestigious international competitions. Upon the completion of the centre’s construction process, I will announce Malawi’s hosting of a big international tournament next year,” said Amanze, who is also president for CAT Southern Africa Region.
He said Malawi has been fortunate to be the first country in the region to have such a facility and to host a high-profile international contest as well as coaches training.
“Malawi tennis has been struggling to reach the desired level of development due to lack of resources. The country has excellent players, especially, in the juniors section but we need to invest in infrastructure so that the game should move in the right direction,” he said.
Almost half of the budget for the construction of the K53 million (US$117 778) tennis centre will come from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Grand Slam Development Fund while the remainder is expected to be sourced locally from the corporate world and other well-wishers.
Youth Development and Sports Minister Grace Chiumia, who was the guest of honour, pledged 50 bags of cement towards the project and she said she would lobby the government through her ministry to provide additional support.
“Time for politics is over, this is time for development. If we are to win the battle of infrastructure development, we need to think positively and jointly contribute towards the construction of sports facilities such as this tennis centre,” she said.
According to Lawn Tennis Association of Malawi (LTAM) general secretary Chris Kachale, who has made a personal contribution of K100 000 (US$222), the centre will have a gym, new fence around six tennis courts, recreation room, terraces and toilets.
The centre will be established on the CCL tennis section, which has been leased to the LTAM for 10 years at K1.5 million (US$3 333) per annum. Once it becomes operational, the centre will have at least eight junior players undergoing residential intensive training while continuing with their basic education.