The return of Wayne Black (41) to the tennis court to represent Zimbabwe in the Euro Africa Group ll tie against Bosnia–Herzegovina is a telling reminder that all is not well in tennis.
The Standard Editorial
Black has not been active for the past 10 years, but made a bold decision to come out of retirement to “assist” in the bid to have Zimbabwe play in the elite league once again.
Black, who used to partner Kevin Ullyet in the Zimbabwe’s doubles category, joined Takanyi Garanganga, Tino Chanakira, Benjamin Lock and Mark Fynn to complete the team.
While Black should be praised for taking the extraordinary step to help his country, we surely should be very ashamed as a nation that this is happening, 34 years after independence.
Do we as a nation have to rely on veterans to represent the country when we have thousands of young boys and girls who can be developed into future stars?
Since the time that the Black brothers, Byron and Wayne together with Ullyet retired, it took Zimbabwe close to 10 years to qualify to play in this group after having performed dismally in the past years.
There were no players good enough to match what the retired crop had achieved despite the existence of the much-talked-about national junior development programme which was initiated years ago.
It is shameful to note that most successful Zimbabwean sports persons to come out of Zimbabwe — Nick Price, Charles Manyuchi, Evan Stewart, Kirsty Coventry, Peter Ndlovu, Byron, Wayne and Cara Black — are not products of the national junior sports development programme, but are a result of sacrifices made by their families.
The Blacks were introduced into sport by their father Don, Evan had Anthea Stewart, the 1980 golden girl as her mentor while Charles was introduced and nurtured to what he is today by his father Otis Manyuchi. As a nation we cannot rely on the benevolence of families to develop our sporting personalities.
It is the duty of the government to provide funding for junior development programmes.
Sport is an industry, just like agriculture, and unless we invest into it, we will continue to be the perennial under-achievers of African and world sport.