The US mission in Uganda in partnership with the Tartan Burners Athletic Club and the Uganda Tennis Association have launched the inaugural Arthur Ashe Memorial Regional Tennis competitions aimed at creating awareness of the HIV virus as well as promoting the game of Tennis in Uganda.
The US mission has injected in a total sum of 25,000 US dollars to this program that they believe will help advance the US mission Uganda’s core goals of empowering youth and fighting the stem of HIV/AIDS.
Phil Dimon, the US mission spokesperson in his remarks during a press conference held at the American center said that this program is modelled after Arthur Ashe, a famous African American tennis player who is the only one to have ever won the US Open and Wimbledon and he was a very accomplished tennis player.
“He died of HIV/AIDS but before he died, he was a major activist in terms of advocating for AIDs, sex education, safe sex and so this program will be used as a tool to empower youths into the sport of tennis whilst promoting awareness and combating HIV/AIDS,” said Dimon.
The program will sponsor tennis clinics and HIV/AIDS education in five different locations through Uganda including Hoima (Oct, 26th), Arua (Nov, 2nd), Gulu (Nov 3rd), Jinja (Nov 9th) and Kalangala (Nov 30th) and will mostly target youths of ages 13-18 for sustainability purposes.
On February 22, 2020, the program will be climaxed with the grand finale at Lugogo Tennis Complex in Kampala.
Dimon says that kids from all over the other districts will be transported to come and be a part of that mega event where they will hold bigger clinics for additional skills training as well as a team the USA and team Uganda squaring up and also an exhibition.
“We are looking at a number of youths above 50 at each region, and over 300 at the grand finale, we hope this program will be a starting point to the development of tennis in different districts and we hope the HIV/AIDS message will be reached and they will be the change agents in their communities,” added Dimon.
Dean Kibirige, the Vice president of Uganda Tennis Association (UTA) commended the good work of the US Mission Uganda and added that the money brought into the federation through this program will be put to good use.
“We are extremely happy about this innovation and the support of the US mission for injecting such a big amount into tennis.
“This has come a long way from us getting back to International Tennis Federation (ITF) ban which was slapped on us in 2009.
“In 2017/18, we came good after a combined effort from the National Council of Sports (NCS) and the government to pay a debt of USD20+ millions.
“We are now in good books with ITF and Confederation of African Tennis (CAT), we are now able to engage in different disciplines within the country and on the continent,” said Kibirige.
About Arthur Ashe
Born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, Arthur Ashe became the first (and remains the only) African – American male tennis player to win the US Open and Wimbledon singles titles.
He was also the first African American man to earn the No. 1 ranking in the world. 1985, he became the first African – American man to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Ashe was much more than a storied tennis player; he was an activist, author, educator, and a tireless campaigner of civil rights and racial equality. When Ashe learned that he had contracted AIDS via a blood transfusion, he turned his efforts to raising awareness about the disease.
He delivered a speech at the United Nations, started the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, and laid the groundwork for a $5 million fundraising campaign for the foundation. He was a strong advocate for the teaching of safe sex and sex education. Ashe died of AIDS on February 6, 1993.
BY FRANK SEMATA