Sport development and diplomacy had a major boost over the weekend with the double hosting of the inaugural Zimbabwe-Switzerland (Zwiss-Open) Diplomatic Tennis Tournament and the official launch of Total Greatness Initiative (TGI) at the Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare.
Speaking at the event, Swiss ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Niculin Jäger said sport plays a major role in strengthening relationships and promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
“Sport has played and continues to play a significant role in diplomacy, state-to-state relations, and in promoting peace and the values of tolerance, team work, fair play and discipline. Today, we are pleased to see the convergence of representatives from various sectors from government, diplomacy, civil society and the business world,” said Ambassador Jager.
He said Switzerland and Zimbabwe continue to enjoy cordial bilateral relations and this tournament is also a celebration of 42 years of great friendship.
A doubles exhibition match pitting Zimbabwe’s Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts & Recreation, Kirsty Coventry and TGI beneficiary Crispen Kapangura against Ambassador Jagger and TGI founder Takanyi Garanganga marked the official launch of the tournament. Another highlight of the afternoon was a junior tournament where winners received unique and personally autographed tennis memorabilia from legendary Swiss player, Roger Federer.
Coventry applauded the Swiss Embassy and TGI for coming up with this initiative.
“My ministry shares the same sentiment with the Embassy of Switzerland, and Total Greatness Initiative, that investing in tennis as a professional and influential sport provides a good opportunity to directly impact the lives of young people and help build sustainable programmes to which young Zimbabweans can aspire.
“I am reliably informed that the Swiss Open Diplomatic Tennis Tournament’s partnership with TGI aims to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, to become professional tennis players and aspire for a better future. Such programmes will feed into our NDS1 (National Development Strategy 1) projects and will have a positive outcome,” Coventry said.
Expounding on the vision of the two projects and the partnership between his embassy and TGI, Ambassador Jager said, “Takanyi aims to develop and nurture young tennis talents – particularly those coming from underprivileged backgrounds – through sustained junior tournament competitions nationwide. Takanyi’s ambition of setting up a national high-performance centre promises additional opportunities for young talents in Zimbabwe to maximize their potential and enable them to compete internationally.
“My Embassy has assumed an initial patronage role for Takanyi’s ground-breaking initiative by providing seed funding that has enabled the TGI activities to take off in 2021,” said Ambassador Jager.
TGI, is a national non-profit organisation founded in 2020 by one of Zimbabwe’s international tennis players and sports ambassadors, Takanyi Garanganga.