This was confirmed this morning at the media brief held at Wanderers Club, Rivonia between the department and Tennis SA.
Addressing guests, Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, said the funds would amongst other things, help in re-branding tennis in this country and the successful hosting of the tourney.
“Tennis in this country has been perceived as an elite sport. That’s nonsense,” he said.
Having made us wait for almost an hour behind the scheduled time, Mbalula said Tennis SA should wake up and smell the coffee, if they want to market and promote this sport to all in the country.
On the issue of lack of sponsorship, he said:“We hope other stakeholders would come on board and help in taking this sport forward. Marketing and rebranding of tennis should be prioritized as much as other top three sporting codes, namely soccer, cricket and rugby. That should not be the case.”
Initially, R7.5m is needed for the whole hosting of the tournament.
Mbalula said the sports ministry would assist TSA in finding further funding for the tournament after the conclusion of the one-year deal.
“I will personally approach the Lottery Board to help,” he promised.
The 2013 Soweto Open will be hosted at the ceremonial venue Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu, which has been host to other major tennis international events.
Ashe, former black tennis legend first visited SA in 1970s, and upon arrival felt the desire to construct what would today be the mecca of tennis in Soweto.
The 2012 Soweto Open, which was set to be the fourth edition of the tournament, was called off in December last year, due to insufficient funds.
Ian Smith, the chief executive of TSA, said at the time that the Johannesburg City Council, which had sponsored the event since its inception in 2009, had not renewed its contract due to financial constraints.
The abandonment left South Africa without a major tennis tournament this year after the ATP-sanctioned SA Open at Montecasino was also terminated.
Wire Zondi, President of TSA said such developments are indicative how serious the federation is towards changing the mindset of our communities on this kind of sport.
We need to rekindle the spirit of tennis particularly in under-privileged communities, says the concerned Zondi.
On the awareness of the tourney, he says: “Our marketing strategies would help to propel the forthcoming tourney and conscientious Private, Public Partnership system to help with resources to develop academies and improve our hubs from 7 to spread across the country.”
Such events would once again put Soweto on the international radar, and hopefully benefit greatly in the long run, he said.
Tourism and vast economic spin-offs pre and post the Soweto Open would not only benefit Soweto but the entire country, concluded ‘Mbaks’as the Minister is affectionally renowned.
To conclude the launch, five Primary Schools from Soweto and one Rivonia Primary were handed over tennis equipments.