WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA LOOKING AHEAD TO EMPOWER MORE GIRLS
National Women's Day is upon us and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) General Manager, Karen Losch said the Federation’s efforts to empower young disabled girls through the sport in the country remains their priority and is very much ongoing.
Losch said looking back at some of the female athletes who were introduced to wheelchair tennis and today are among the world’s best, like Kgothatso Montjane, rising stars Mariska Venter, Nokwanda Hlongwane etc, the sport shaped their lives and made them strong.
“Wheelchair Tennis has grown tremendously in the country since its inception in 2005 and saw some of the world’s greatest players like Kgothatso Montjane making waves across the globe, our rising stars Mariska Venter, Nokwanda Hlongwane, Asive Gilifile and many more who have also shown that sport has huge potential to empower women and girls. So, we continue to work very hard to develop and empower girl-child in the sport,” said Losch.
“To make a real difference and give the girls the opportunities they deserve we need to secure a partner to fund additional coaching at the centres, host local tournaments and give the young girls the taste of playing on the international circuit,” added Losch.
Kgothatso Montjane, the country’s no.1 ace and ranked 8th internationally has confronted life's challenges head on, to stand tall and be a role model we can all respect and admire. The 31-year-old who was born with a congenital birth defect leaving her no alternative but to have her left leg amputated below the knee recently secured her third Swiss Open title and now holds 39 singles titles and 49 doubles titles.
Other phenomenal women includes former world no.1 junior Mariska Venter, who scooped two titles earlier this year in Lithuania and recorded her first victory at the Soweto Open, Nokwanda Hlongwane who made titles last year winning two awards at the Spar Gsport and named School Sport Athlete of the Year at the Gauteng Sports Awards.
Rising star Asive Gilifile from Eastern Cape, ranked no.1 in the juniors in South Africa has also made her mark breaking into the top 10 globally in just a few years in the sport. Other promising role models we believe will be an inspiration to all women in time to come are Mabel Mankgele, Nosipho Hlatswayo and Nokanyiso Nyosi.
“So, as we celebrate women this month, we urge all young girls to stand and partake in a sport. Every time a woman hits a ball, demonstrating not only physical strength, but also leadership and strategic thinking, they take a step towards gender equality and we continue to give them opportunities to excel at a sport. ”, added Losch.