Former Rwanda international Joselyne Umulisa has launched an academy to train youngsters in a bid to produce the next generation of tennis stars for the country, particularly female players.
Umulisa, 34, holds a level one badge in tennis coaching.
The newly launched academy, dubbed ‘Youth Tennis Development’ programme, opened with a total of 30 boys and girls between 14 to 17 years of age. With time, as she gets means and partners, Umulisa plans to increase the number of trainees.
Speaking to Times Sport on Saturday, Umulisa said that she started the academy to bridge the ‘alarmingly small number’ of women’s tennis players in the country.
“The programme is all about producing the next generation of champions, players who can take our game to a level our generation did not manage to,” said Umulisa, a former three-time national champion.
“Rwanda lacks enough female players, it’s alarmingly small. As a former champion, it is my duty to contribute to the solution and I hope I will get people to join my cause. There is talent in the country, what was missing is guidance and serious training.”
Umulisa also commends parents who are supporting their children to take part in the training programme, and urged more to borrow a leaf.
“The means are still limited to admit many kids into the programme, but the number will keep increasing with time. Some parents are supporting their children to take part, and hopefully more will borrow a leaf. Also, I thank the tennis federation for the continued partnership.”
She further noted: “Tennis accessories are expensive and get worn out very fast, so we will need more partners to sustain the programme but I have hope they will come on board.”
In separate interview with Théoneste Karenzi, President of the Rwanda Tennis Federation, pledged support to Umulisa and her initiative as it aligns with the federation’s vision of promoting young talents.
“Umulisa and her initiative are now cherished partners of the federation. We will provide her technical assistance and other possible resources.”
Umulisa (R) gives instructions to some of her trainees at Amahoro Stadium on Saturday. / Courtesy
Umulisa (R) chats with Théoneste Karenzi, President of the local tennis governing body, after leading a training session on Saturday.Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas