Recognition at last for selfless township tennis mentor

2016-04-07 09:23
Mpho Makhoba speaking about her qualifications in tennis and her ambitions (Karabo Ngoepe)

Mpho Makhoba speaking about her qualifications in tennis and her ambitions (Karabo Ngoepe)

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Pretoria - After sharing her story of spending almost all of her salary on uplifting young tennis players in the township, Mpho Makhoba was nominated by a reader to be a Lead SA hero.

Denise Wilson wrote to Lead SA and nominated Makhoba as a hero because of her selfless dedication to the sport of tennis.

"I saw this article on News24... I quote, 'In her pursuit of seeing young township tennis players succeed in the sport she loves, leading local match official Mpho Makhoba says she spends 90% of her hard-earned money paving the way for them'," wrote Wilson.

She said Makhoba's selfless work reminded her of what her late father used to do.

"What she is doing is really wonderful, so I just had to [nominate her] because I thought she is not getting the recognition and help she deserves.

"When I read the article, I couldn't believe it. It's such a selfless act to take so much of your salary and put it towards someone else. That is what caught my attention," Wilson said.

Makhoba, 38, who does not have children of her own, has made it her lifelong mission to uplift kids from townships through sport. She told News24 in March of how she spent the bulk of her salary on helping children get equipment and sporting gear.

"What I like the most is getting down to the ground and building our juniors because when I was a junior, there weren't so many opportunities within tennis for us to grow.

"My biggest dream is to see some of the kids I'm coaching actually progress and take officiating seriously. I would like to see kids from the townships taking any sport, not just tennis and make a difference in their lives," she said at the time.

Trail blazer

Makhoba, from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, is the first female official to receive an international qualification under the joint certification programme run by the International Tennis Federation incorporating the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women's Tennis Association.

She is also only the fourth South African woman to achieve an international Chief of Umpires qualification. She said despite not earning a lot of money, she gets satisfaction from seeing others succeed in life.

Makhoba, who does not own a car, said she laughs when people tell her she needs to save money and get herself some wheels.

"I don't earn that much but knowing that I'm making a difference in someone's life makes me sleep better. I know I don't have kids of my own but I have tons of children that I'm taking care of.

"I'm at peace when I see someone else progress in life. When I save [money], I save to make sure someone goes to a tournament, or that someone who doesn't have parents has food on the table," she said.

‘Maybe they could go to Wimbledon’

Wilson said reading that story reminded her of her late father who had also dedicated his life to the sport.

"We grew up with tennis and when I saw this, I thought she is doing this for youngsters who have talent but maybe don't have finances to get a racquet or to have lessons.

"Who knows maybe in a couple of years' time they could be at Wimbledon and just to give them the opportunity to do that is absolutely marvellous," said Wilson.

'You are joking right?'

Makhoba said she was honoured by the recognition. She said it was motivation for her to continue helping people.

"You are joking right? Please tell me you are joking," said Makhoba when she was told about the nomination.

"I’m very humbled about the nomination. It gives me great joy to know that someone out there sees what I’m doing. This gives me more courage to want to do more for our kids, help them reach their goals. There is so much potential out there that needs a bit of a push to surface and it’s our responsibility to give these kids that push, encourage them to want to do more and believing in themselves is very important.' 

"To all the parents, please help us to help this kids to realise their full potential, I'm really humbled about all this," said Makhoba.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  good news

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