Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO Metropolitan Tennis Board (BMTB) has said it only received tennis balls from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) funded Junior Tennis Initiative (JTI) administered by Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) and nothing more.
Distribution of JTI equipment by TZ has been topical in tennis circles, with TZ manager Cliff Nhokwara being accused of mismanagement of the resources.
Nhokwara told our sister paper, The Herald, that he is being targeted by agents of falsehoods.
He argues that the project, which targets the Under-10s and Under-12s has made a huge difference for many young and aspiring tennis players by giving them a platform to showcase their skills.
Nhokwara said excess equipment has been distributed to provinces, something BMTB disputes.
“I can’t say we’ve fully benefitted from the JTI equipment. I think there has been some miscommunication regarding the JTI equipment because there’s a national JTI Centre in Mutare where, according to my knowledge, that equipment is channelled to. As for us, we got balls, the ones that TZ brings for tournaments. There’re not many beneficiaries to say such a club or academy got equipment,” said Raggs Joelson, BMTB chairman.
TZ executive member Vincent Nyatoti, who is also the co-ordinator for the initiative in Mutare, came to Nhokwara’s defence saying the JTI programme creates opportunities for those who would possibly not have stood a chance of playing tennis because of lack of resources.
“If this development programme had not been started, those who were underprivileged, who could not afford, would not have been able to play tennis,’’ said Nyatoti.
Nhokwara believes those making “malicious” allegations against him might have thought he was behind the decision for a mandatory US$15 payment to help the game return following a three-month Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“I think some believe that it is me who is behind the US$15 fee. Maybe, there are some people with personal vendettas against me. About 70-90 percent of the equipment, which is donated by the ITF towards JTI, goes to our main centre in Mutare and the rest is shared among other provinces.
“For starters, there is no way I wouldn’t have been flagged when audits were conducted. Look, TZ equipment does not come in an individual’s name. Cliff (Nhokwara) does not receive the association’s money,” Nhokwara said. — @ZililoR