- BNP Paribas, RCS and Tennis South Africa ‘Rising Star Tennis’ initiative aims at increasing youth participation in tennis in South Africa.
- This national primary school’s tennis championship will involve hundreds of schools across the country, over 7 months.
- ATP star Kevin Anderson is the official ambassador of this initiative.
Grass roots tennis in South Africa has received a significant boost following an announcement by BNP Paribas and their wholly owned consumer finance subsidiary RCS, regarding a partnership with Tennis South Africa (TSA) to launch the ‘Rising Star Tennis’ initiative together.
The partnership -which aims to increase youth participation in the sport via a national primary school’s tennis challenge -was officially launched on Tuesday 23rd July at the Arthur Ashe facility in Soweto. The countrywide initiative aims to provide tennis access to children, targeting hundreds of primary schools across the country, including schools in historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
According to Richard Glover, CEO of Tennis South Africa, the seven-month competition in 14 tennis districts, and 9 provinces across the country, which commences in August, will set out to nurture tennis, and widen its participation and appeal, in order to diversify the sport and enrich the South Africa’s junior talent pool.
South African international tennis star Kevin Anderson will be the face of the initiative which aligns with his long held desire to develop tennis in South Africa and make it accessible for all. Anderson, a US Open and Wimbledon men’s singles finalist in 2017 and 2018 respectively, will, as the Brand Ambassador of the Rising Star Tennis challenge, be heavily involved in the programme and is promising some exciting developments, as the initiative progresses.
“I have always been extremely passionate about giving back to the game at home, and I strongly believe developing future South African Tennis stars needs to begin with a grass roots revolution. Together with BNP Paribas, RCS and Tennis South Africa, I want to achieve just that, as every child at primary school level should have the opportunity to play and fall in love with tennis. This is a fantastic initiative to increase the profile and legacy of the sport in South Africa, and I can’t wait to witness the discovery of some amazing tennis talent. Remember to keep an eye out for more information on Rising Star Tennis, as there will also be more exciting announcements to come!” added Anderson. Vikas Khandelwal, CEO of BNP Paribas South Africa is proud to have Anderson onboard, with his support and participation as official ambassador adding more impact, excitement and legacy to the initiative. “For more than 45 years, BNP Paribas has supported the sport of tennis, aiming to strengthen its participation at all levels including international, local, educational and social”, says Khandelwal. “In South Africa, we hope that through this partnership we can act as a catalyst for grass roots tennis and to help grow participation amongst the youth of the country, particularly in schools in disadvantaged areas to create a new legacy for the sport. Khandelwal added that sponsoring this initiative underscores BNP Paribas South Africa’s status as the ‘Conscious Company of South Africa’, the award that it received this year for its contribution to social and sustainability initiatives. ”
Regan Adams, CEO of RCS, says that growing tennis at a grassroots level in South Africa will enable boys and girls from all communities to gain access to the sport and deepen the talent pool like never before. “Sport like tennis enables people to rise above their circumstances and achieve their full potential. By creating more playing opportunities where they are needed the most, and by taking tennis to the people through this partnership, the initiative exemplifies our philosophy to be positive agents of change. The project is also the perfect articulation of our commitment to serving as a responsible corporate citizen, and a company helping to build a better South Africa,” says Adams.
The announcement by BNP Paribas and RCS to sponsor the national schools’ championship serves to deepen their existing support of tennis in South Africa. “In May 2018, BNP Paribas became the headline supporter of the TSA coaching mentorship programme – which aims to widen the diversity of registered coaches in South Africa by creating more sustainable opportunities for both black and female coaches” says Khandelwal.
The mentorship programme has gone from strength to strength and has doubled in size thanks to the ongoing support of BNP Paribas, with 58% of the 2019 intake of coaches being women.
Glover thanked BNP Paribas, RCS and Anderson for their tangible support of the Federation’s vision of making tennis accessible to all South Africans. “BNP Paribas Group in South Africa is committed to growing local tennis and making our sport more accessible to all communities in South Africa. Working together, we believe that the ‘Rising Stars Tennis’ programme has the potential to strengthen the legacy of the sport in South Africa”.
“Having Kevin Anderson involved is the proverbial cherry on top of the cake. He is a wonderful ambassador for the game, and his endorsement demonstrates a willingness to give back to junior tennis in South Africa,” concludes Glover.
About BNP Paribas and tennis
BNP Paribas is today the number one partner to tennis worldwide, with a commitment, unrivalled in sport, which goes back all the way to 1973. The Group’s support covers all levels and dimensions of the game all over the world, including singles, doubles, team tennis, wheelchair tennis and family tennis, ranging from beginners’ training to the top professional tournaments.
- Professional Tennis: Official sponsor of the French Open at Roland Garros; title sponsor of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas; title sponsor of three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments – the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Italian Open) in Rome; partner to the Open 13 (Marseille), the Parc de Lyon Open, the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open and the Fever-Tree Championships (Queen’s Club, London), European Open (Anvers);
- Wheelchair Tennis: BNP Paribas Open de France; BNP Paribas World Team Cup;
- Junior & University Tennis and Academies: The Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas; the Master’U BNP Paribas;
- Amateur Tennis: Sponsor of the BNP Paribas Family Trophy; also providing support to over 1,000 amateur tournaments around the world, as well as being the mainspring of a number of ground-breaking social projects linked to tennis, through partnerships with more than 20 national tennis federations and working in tandem with dozens of tennis-based charities such as the charity organisation Fête le Mur founded and chaired by Yannick Noah
- The younger generation: the ‘BNP Paribas Young Talent Team’, in association with the French Tennis Federation and mentored by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; the ‘BNP Paribas Mac 1 Team’, with John and Patrick McEnroe in the United States; and the ‘BNP Paribas Kids Fête le Mur Team’, with Yannick Noah’s Fête le Mur charity organisation.
- Tennis e-sport: ‘Roland-Garros e-Series by BNP Paribas’, an e-sport tournament played all over the world as part of the ‘Tennis World Tour’ video game.
Having entered into all these partnerships, BNP Paribas set up in 2011 a programme called We Are Tennis, whose purpose is to promote interest in the game of tennis all over the world. The wearetennis.com website and its social network accounts bring together a community of tennis lovers and dedicated fans from all continents who are keen to obtain the latest news from the ATP, WTA and ITF circuits. Furthermore, in 2015 BNP Paribas created the We Are Tennis Fan Academy, which enables fans to express their passion for tennis as never before. BNP Paribas also supports local tennis through crowdfunding campaigns designed to finance projects.
In addition, the Group initiated in 2015 a charity programme called ‘Aces of the Heart’, whose aim is to help improve the reception facilities and daily lives of children who are in-patients at paediatric hospitals. The programme also arranges for the hospitalised children to watch tennis tournaments sponsored by BNP Paribas.
About consumer finance business RCS
The RCS Group (RCS) is a consumer finance business that offers its customers a range of financial services products under its own brand name and in association with a number of leading retailers in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
The core purpose of RCS is to enhance people’s lifestyles and protect their financial security through innovative, desirable and accessible credit solutions. The idea is to enable RCS customers to enjoy the convenience, comfort and peace of mind offered by these credit solutions.
About Tennis South Africa
Tennis South Africa (www.tennissa.co.za) is the governing body for tennis in the country. TSA’s mandate is to grow the sport across three key strategic pillars – Profile, Participation and Performance. BNP Paribas and RCS are part of a growing portfolio of TSA sponsors that also includes Growthpoint Properties, KIA Motors, Wiphold, Dunlop and Lotto Sport Italia. All of these sponsorships are focused on investing and growing the game across the three strategic pillars.