By BURI GABI
THE Bank South Pacific (BSP) regional tennis programme was launched yesterday with the bank handing over a sum of K150,000 to PNG Tennis Association at the Bava Tennis Courts yesterday.
The funding is part of a three-year programme which started last year, worth more than K450,000.
It is aimed at getting Papua New Guinea children to learn the ropes of playing tennis at an early age nationwide.
Amazingly, 18,000 school children took part in the programme since its inception last year after covering 13 remote locations throughout the country.
BSP chief executive officer Ian Clyne was impressed with the outcome of last year’s programme, claiming it had an excellent effort when the PNG Tennis Federation and the BSP were reaching out to Kiunga, Wewak, Maprik, Aitape, Vanimo, Tabubil, Madang, Buka, Kimbe, Bialla, Kokopo and Rabaul.
“BSP believes in achieving results and we are confident this year will be bigger and better for the programme with more children getting to learn and love tennis,” Clyne said.
The BSP tennis regional programme will kick off in June with the first leg in Popondetta before moving on to Bulolo, Kavieng, Lihir, Lorengau, Lae, Mt Hagen, Wabag, Mendi, Moro, Kundiawa and Kavieng in November.
PNG Tennis Federation president Hilary Wong said the sponsorship from the bank would go a long way in the development of the code to outside centres where little was known about the sport at the grassroots level.
Tennis is a specialist sport which falls in the same category as golf and it is very important for the programme to be carried through to outside centres if it is to progress, Wong said.
Most school children from the ages of 11 to 15 years in PNG have taken up the programme.
They will have the opportunity of making it into the Oceania Academic programmes in Fiji, following the footsteps of Jacklyn Lahari.
Wong said tennis was now heading into the right direction as it prepared young talents for the future major events like the 2015 Pacific Games.
Wong said budding PNG talents could win at least silver or bronze medals in the international events as they recapture the skills of the game.