Federico Coppini Foundation (FCF) started as a dream of founder Federico Coppini. The foundation was established in 2019 with a focus on tennis development for children in the region and offers a variety of programmes and services to promote and develop tennis in Stellenbosch.
Over the years, the project has undergone a series of changes to achieve more results and to assist more children. Through our experience we have come to the realization that although our interventions aid children in a variety of ways, we want to make a bigger social impact and understand that tennis alone will not deliver the desired social outcome we seek.
The social problems children face often keep them off the court. This includes specifically family related problems such as poverty, substance abuse, and gender stereotypes. With these realities in mind, we conducted a strategic review, which lead to a shift from tennis alone, to a more socially focused programme. Our strategic goals have grown to include education and cultural development, and particularly the development of girls, through tennis as a catalyst.
The sport of tennis provides an effective access point to reach children and to provide a positive personal and social space to influence change and bring about personal growth and development in participants. The focus of the foundation has shifted to include our original objectives, global development targets, and new strategic objectives, namely:
1. Broad-based tennis access: Our aim is to continue introducing the sport widely to children across all communities in Stellenbosch, restoring the status of the sport in the region.
2. Producing tennis champions: To offer quality coaching and support to develop competitive tennis players
3. Supporting educational growth: To facilitate children into educational bursaries and life opportunities through the sport.
4. Social and cultural interventions: To address the social issues and cultural beliefs that prevent players from reaching their full potential.
5. Development of girls: To launch a full scholarship programme for girls aged 9-10 years that includes education and tennis development.
As mentioned previously, these objectives not only speak to our own goals, but also contribute to more global issues.
Federico Coppini Foundation is immensely appreciative of the funding and support received to date. However, Federico Coppini has largely funded FCF in his personal capacity up to this point and with the Foundations growing ambitions we seek additional funding and partnerships to scale.
1.1 Federico Coppini Foundatio - Schools Programme
This programme is well developed and running smoothly. We have built good relationships with participating schools and the school teams are well established. Some schools offer transport for their players which helps greatly as transport costs are prohibitive and we may have to invest in a vehicle for this purpose.
School training takes place 5 days a week at our Ida’s Valley tennis facility. This venue has become a home away from home for the children in our programme and an uplifting child friendly space has been established.
Our programme includes ‘open day’ events at schools, where we continually introduce tennis to newcomers and subsequently create a culture of tennis playing, while growing the numbers in our programme.
In addition to these introductions and the training programme itself, we also offer holiday programmes that have been extremely popular, attracting hundreds of children that would normally be idle during school breaks.
Herewith statistics on the programme:
1.2. Federico Coppini Foundation - High Performance Programme
Our high-performance programme is offered to players that show dedication and potential to excel at the game. These players receive individual and more regular coaching, as well as tournament and other support. Herewith statistics on the programme:
High Performance Player Overview:
- Thiego Andrews (seen left) is one of our best high-performance players and he has shown tremendous growth this year. He is both dedicated and talented. Thiego played his first TWT-UTR tournament in February 2022 and his second in March, when he made it to the semi-finals. At his next tournament he came second, which is a great breakthrough for him. He is disciplined and well on track for future success.
- Kris Van Wyk is one of our best players, now having 665 ATP points he has recently won M15 in Maputo and is ranked number two in the SA ATP rankings.
- Quinn Smith won several Wilson under-12 tournaments as well as the under-12 Wilson Masters and UTR-TWT.
- Zachary Pardash has been with us for two years and last year he had very good results at TSA level. He won several under 14 and 16 tournaments. Earlier this year playing hockey at P.Roos he suffered a serious back injury. Aster a hocky injury that kept him off the court, he has now returned and reached the final in the Open category a recent UTR-TWT tournament.
- Mark Poggenpoel is on track for international tournament competition. He is a dedicated player, his fitness level is excellent and we have great expectations for this talented player. He is currently participating in both UTR-TWT and TSA tournaments
- Oyama Fikiso has been with us for a number of years. This Kayamandi based player is constantly increasing his level of play and UTR ranking. He plays all TWT-UTR tournaments.
- Bella King emenated from the FCF schools programme. She has started playing UTR-TWF under-10 tournaments and her next goal is under-12 tournaments.
- Junaid Williams, Kristen Julius and Bella King have progressed to the High-Performance Programme at the end of 2021. These three players are showing great potential and their coaching has intensified accordingly. They have started playing competitively, participating in multiple Tennis World Tournaments. Kristen has unfortunately stopped playing due to social family problems, which is a prime example of why we are making our social interventions more central, to be able to assist and support players beyond the court.
- Hermanus Wade is the top under-18 players in SA. He left the country in August as he was accepted, into a college in Milwaukee on a full tennis scholarship. He is currently playing tennis for his US college, and we are very excited about his future. Being able to get children into scholarship opportunities is a central objective of our high-performance programme.
- Orphanages tennis team is a highlight for us. Their dedication and commitment are exemplary. One player from this group has been escalated to the High-Performance Programme. This player is Indiphile Sintsil
1.3. Federico Coppini Foundation - Coaches
FCF employs 7 coaches that offer their services to both the School and High-Performance Programme players. As with our players, we are focused on the development of the coaches both on and off the court. They have grown in professionalism and skill, and we are very proud of our coaching team.
What is of particular importance is that their ability to work with children and offer more than just on the court coaching is well established. The learning focus of the coaches include the establishment and development of discipline, leadership, sportsmanship, and healthy living in players.
1.4. Federico Coppini Foundation - Facilities
FCF has formal lease agreements with Stellenbosch Municipality for the management of both the Ida’s Valley and Van Der Stel tennis facilities.
The Ida’s Valley facilities is refurbished and in great condition. The club house is a haven for our players, coaches, parents, and community participants. The facility was officially launched in November 2021 and the event enjoyed good media coverage.
We are now in the process of renovating the Van Der Stel facility, which was received in an extremely deteriorated condition. We are investing R2,3 million in the refurbishment (first phase) which includes the following:
1.5. Federico Coppini Foundation - Tournaments
Federico Coppini Foundation tournaments are branded as “Tennis World Tour (TWT)” events. It is a tournament system linked to UTR ranking, which is used by American colleges. We host 1 to 2 TWT tournaments monthly which consist of the following categories: Open (adults and ages), Under-14, Under-12, and Under-10.
The tournaments are very popular, and we enjoy very positive registration numbers, much higher than TSA tournaments. TWT tournaments was developed due to a lack of tournament opportunities in South Africa. Our players need constant competition, and this platform allows more game time, which translates into the necessary mental and technical skills development needed.
The goal is to create an ever-growing circuit and participation numbers. Our aim is to get sponsors for TWT to up the prize money and stature of the tournaments. The tournaments have official TSA referee’s and tournament directors. The proceeds of the tournaments are donated to Federico Coppini Foundation.
FCF is making good progress in re-establishing tennis as a sport of choice among children and youth in Stellenbosch. Our facilities offer players a constructive social space. Players are starting to come through on the high-performance side and we expect more children to excel and progress to competitive levels, gain scholarships, and improve the overall prospects of participants.
STRAND TENNIS PROGRAMME
The Strand Tennis Programme is well developed and have grown substantially, to benefit 63 children of which 10 are in the intermediate programme (historically part of the programme) and 6 (new recruits) in the high-performance programme.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the programme in several ways. Besides for the actual interruptions during lockdown, the knock-on effect has been absenteeism due to the loaded school calendars and what we presume to be other social issues.
Between October and November, we initiated a recruitment drive in schools and the programme now has more members than ever before. The Strand Tennis programme is flourishing and growing.
The Strand Programme offers tennis development to three schools in the region which are Rusthoff Primary, ACJ Phakade Primary, Umnqophiso Primary. An intermediate coaching programme is also offered to deserving players.
The number of children associated with the programme has grown substantially during this period. We hosted a range of ‘open day’ events at participating schools and increased the number of players from 17 to 63.
Schools Tennis Programme – 48 children
With the 3 schools that we have in our programme, each of them practices once a week. The players are very excited and cannot wait to go to the tennis courts. There’s growth from each school with more time and full attendance of each school, will the players move to a higher level. There tennis will improve, and they will be able to play tournaments as well.
Intermediate Players – 10 children’s
The attendance of the intermediate players this was not up to standard. Some of them dropped out. Some of them are in a higher grade and get more house responsibilities. A few of them said that they rather want to focus on their schoolwork. But when they come to tennis practice, they practice hard and give their everything. A few of them still come on a regularly basis to practice, they are the legacy of Strand tennis. We hope in the near future that they will become great tennis players and participate in all of the tournaments in Cape Town.
High Performance Players – 6 children
During this period 6 talented players were escalated from the schools’ teams to high-performance status. This is done based on merit and players in this category receive additional coaching, tournament opportunities and support. At the outset of this year there were two players in this category. An additional 4 players from Umnqophiso Primary showed dedication and talent and they too were escalated to intermediate status. Currently the high-performance group consists of the following children:
We have had very positive feedback from schools
Umnqophiso Primary sports teacher (Mr. Macala) visited the programme recently and had this to say about the programme:
“It was such a proud moment for him to see how far these players had grown over the past few months. The players are eager and respectful toward the coaches. He is especially proud of the 4 boys who had shown that they want to be there and learn more about the techniques of tennis. He is thankful that the coaches also pushed the players harder and that they always motivate them.”
The Teacher at Rusthoff Primary (Ms. Celeste) said the following:
“I am grateful for all the effort the coaches are doing and hope that the tennis programme will continue in the school as the children love doing it.”
The Strand Tennis Programme has developed and grown in a variety of ways. There are more children in the programme, schools are actively involved, and players are starting to come through to the High-Performance Programme as their game is improving. The Strand coaches has grown in professionalism and coaching skill. The programme is stable and able to progress independently.