Pretoria - Financial support is required in order to unearth talented tennis players in the townships, says Mpho Makhoba.
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 female to achieve an international Chief of Umpires qualification.
"We have a whole lot of talent from our black communities. The biggest obstacle there is finance because tennis is not a cheap sport," she said.
"They need new tennis shoes at least every three months."
Makhoba said many of the players in townships don't get recognition because they can't compete in tournaments to get ranking points. She applauded coaches in the townships as many of them worked for free.
"Entry fees for tournaments are required so that the kids can get rankings. They can't play those tournaments because they can't afford all that is involved, such as accommodation, travel and food."
She has been using her own money to assist some players while helping others get once-off sponsors to buy the kit and racquets.
"Finance is a problem. If we can have a sponsor that will come down to development clubs and assist the kids, we will see a whole lot of them breaking through in a very short period of time."
Makhoba said she felt strongly about giving back to her community and helping where she can. Apart from sacrificing her own salary to help out, she also spends her off days training and coaching young players.
She described herself as a tennis fanatic. "I love tennis to bits. I eat, drink and sleep tennis.
"Apart from tennis, I don't have another life because during the weekends I'm either doing junior tournaments or giving courses to those who want to take officiating courses. During the week I'm at the office."