Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
HIS love for tennis, and a sense of giving back to a sport that shaped his life, have been the driving force behind coach Richmore Murape.
He has been at the forefront of the rural schools tennis development programme, since 2014, where has taught scores of kids and provided equipment for them.
Murape says the inspiration came from former Mufakose Tennis Coaching Agency director, Albert Nhamoyebonde, who played a big role in promoting tennis in Mufakose.
“I am a product of Albert Nhamoyebonde. If I am not mistaken, Albert was coming to Mufakose for more than 25 years, coaching children from the area,’’ said Murape.
“That’s where the likes of my late brother Claudio Murape, the first black non-playing captain of the Zimbabwe Davis Cup team, came from.
“Shepherd Manyumbu, who is now highly qualified in officiating, Lazarus Manjoro, the one who is coaching at Peterhouse, Martin Dzuwa, Peter Nyamande and the likes.
“As I was reflecting, I thought we do not have money to thank Albert Nhamoyebonde for what he did for us, so I thought what if we extend what Albert did for us, to other people?
“That’s how it started.”
The first encounter, which activated his plans into action, was when he met Owen Siyawareva, a teacher at Nzvimbo Primary School, in Chiweshe, who shared his love for the sport. Murape invited Siyawareva to bring some of his players for a tournament at Old Hararians.
“I realised there were people who loved the sport in rural areas. He brought his players for the tournament.
“At first, there were some negative remarks from the people that attended that tournament because some of the kids did not have shoes and could not count the scores.
“But, I did not care about that.
“Then, during the presentation of prizes, that’s when I narrated how the children had come to play and the same people were the first to bring shoes, rackets to give to the children.
“We remained in touch with Owen. I think we now have more than 50 schools,” said Murape.
Some of the people who have worked closely with Murape on the programme are Manjoro, and former players, parents and several other coaches in and outside Zimbabwe, have weighed in with the needed equipment.
“We are still to see the next Byron (Black, a former top Zimbabwean tennis player), maybe, he is out there.
“The drive is to push tennis development in rural schools, give opportunity to players outside urban areas.
“My desire is that tennis should not just be played in urban areas but also in rural areas,” Murape said.
Murape has worked with schools in areas such as Domboshava, Seke, Chiweshe and Sanyati.
Some of the outstanding players identified through this programme have received scholarships.
Siyawareva said it’s been an eventful but fulfilling experience.
“When we started it was not easy, it had its ups and downs. It’s not easy when you are out there to train and develop a player.
“It needs hard work and you have to be determined.’’
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