HIGH QUALITY TENNIS FOUNDATION (HQTF) is a sports nonprofit that has been helping young children to better themselves as athletes to become quality members of their society through playing tennis. Their programs and activities as a foundation are designed to be a catalyst that helps children achieve their full potential in life and to positively impact their peers and environments.
“A large percentage of these kids who find love with the sport of tennis end up losing interest due to a lack of resources and support. High Quality Tennis Foundation has therefore become a support structure for many of them in Ghana, providing resources such as equipment like tennis rackets and balls, clothing including tennis sneakers, organizing tournaments, group clinics, and academic materials to help them live their dreams” said Eric Okyere to TheAfricanDream.net in a phone interview from Winneba, the capital of the Effutu Municipal District in the Central Region of Southern Ghana.
The founding and structure of HQTF
HiQTF is Founded by Eric Okyere, his primary objective was to simply provide for the less privileged and to put smiles on the face of every young Ghanaian child in the community. “Our goal now is to help revitalize tennis at the Winneba Tennis Academy (WTA) and provide players with a wide range of opportunities to continue their career after high school,” explained Eric who started the nonprofit through the motivation of a former WTA player who’s desire was to give back to the Tennis Academy.
Head Coach of the WTA Noah Bukari gave the founder a home and took him off the streets and through this singular act of benevolence helped awaken Eric’s purpose as he looked toward the future. Today Eric is so proud of Francisca Nyarko of Ghana who played tennis at Henderson State University in the United States (US), Marcel Agbegne, a former player at Limestone University in South Carolina also in the US, and Albert Arthur, Ghana Women’s National Team Head Coach, all of whom pay keen attention to the work going on at his foundation.
Both Eric Okyere and his Co-Founder Miyanna Vernon who are former players today believe that if they are not able to reach higher levels at playing tennis at venues like the ATP and Grand Slams, then they could become a conduit to help the athletes in the next generation get to that level of play for Ghana.
Miyanna Vernon, a New York-based tennis enthusiasts in the US who has actively played the game for over a decade and is now Women’s Assistant Tennis Coach at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York said “I believe in the importance of a better education for all children and endeavor to make it a part of our agenda to see that all our kids get a higher quality education and tutoring options as a way of providing extra help. I am now looking forward to going to Ghana to personally coach these wonderful kids,” said Ms. Vernon.
There are three qualified coaches at the foundation that are supported by a player helping to groom the children. These beneficiaries could number between 30 to 40 young ones at a given time. They are combined with advanced players sometimes and together they hit the streets of Winneba occasionally, looking to recruit more kids to help them get off the streets by encouraging them to consider tennis as an option.
BBMP recognizes HQTF’s labor of love
“As a young foundation, we have been reaching out to the world for support with tennis equipment and academic materials to help these children through mentoring and tutoring. We have advanced junior players and senior players as well, some of which are doing incredibly well,” according to Eric who wants as many people to have an experience of the game at the international level for Ghana.
And so as part of plans to support these players travel the world to play in tournaments and prepare them to go pro and also help them further their education in colleges outside of Ghana, “We got lucky to partner with an American organization called Building Blocks Mentoring Program (BBMP). I believe we can get more of these kinds of support to make lives better for these kids and the community. This is why we are full of appreciation for BBMP for supporting our young tennis players who are nationally ranked in Ghana,” Ms. Vernon told TheAfricanDream.net from New York.
BBMP is a US-based nonprofit working on student-empowerment through education, job readiness skills, and athletics. They saw the great work of HQTF in Ghana align with theirs in the US and decided to jump at the opportunity to assist in whatever way they could. According to its Founder, Stephon Smallwood, “Ghana presented such a beautiful opportunity for us to make an impact on the Motherland for black children in Africa, which is why we are excited to continue assisting our friends in Winneba.”
Written by Oral Ofori