Wheelchair Tennis SA in need of funding

Kgothatso Montjane (Frederic Curtet)
Kgothatso Montjane (Frederic Curtet)

Johannesburg - Wheelchair Tennis SA (WTSA) chief executive Karen Losch says the organisation needs R12 million to function, but it will receive only R2.5 million.

Speaking to City Press this week, Losch said: “It depends on the extent of what we do if we are operating at optimal level – running about 50 centres, providing opportunities to all our athletes. We may need R12 million to R15 million annually for us to function well.”

The award-winning administrator said R2 million would be enough if they were to run the organisation without providing opportunities for players.

“An amount of R2 million would mean we cannot do much for our athletes; there will be no events or opportunities for them.”

WTSA’s financial challenges may force it to close down if it does not receive more cash.

High-profile players such as Evans Maripe, Lucas Sithole, Mariska Venter and Kgothatso “KG” Montjane each needed about R750 000 a year just to travel to tournaments.

During the past financial year, healthcare company Netcare contributed R290 000.

Losch said Sithole and Montjane were funded by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) when they went abroad.

“Sascoc strictly pays for Kgothatso and Sithole, and the money doesn’t include our operations.”

But this was also not enough as Montjane usually travelled to tournaments abroad without her coach.

However, independent funders also helped.

Women’s Development Bank Trust chief executive Nomgqibelo Mdlalose contributed to Montjane’s recent trip to the UK.

Losch said Montjane’s trip to Wimbledon was the only time she had travelled without her coach – the coach tagged along for other tournaments. In contrast, Sithole and Maripe went with their coaches to all their tournaments.

WTSA has been strapped for cash since it lost its Airports Company SA sponsorship about two years ago.

Losch said the National Lottery and casino company Grandslots would soon come on board.

The National Lottery was set to contribute R1.5 million, while Grandslots would grant the association R200 000.

Even though WTSA is in trouble, Montjane managed to secure a few sponsors, who will be announced on Wednesday.

She will compete in another Grand Slam, the US Open, next month.

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