EDITORIAL – Whither road tennis?
AS WE APPROACH another Independence Day, we wonder what has become of the peculiarly indigenous game of road tennis. After more than four decades of managing our own affairs and declaring that these hills and fields beyond recall are now our very own, can we say with any degree of confidence that we have developed and marketed this game and made it our very own?
The game was born out of the struggle against the ingrained poverty of the masses of our people and as such is a testament to the cutting and contriving that was so much a part of the post-Emancipation experience for our people.
It was also an attempt to release the natural ability of our young boys and girls, who in those bygone days had not reached the platform of financial well-being to enable them (or rather their parents) to purchase the expensive equipment for the game of lawn tennis.
But Independence and the improved financial and social position of our people have meant that the hitherto unavailable lawn tennis can now be played by youngsters whose parents have benefitted from the social revolution and, indeed, from Independence itself.
It would be an invidious thing if the enhanced social positions have inhibited the development of this most important social statement of the ingenuity of our people, but a recent video clip on the Internet suggests that road tennis is soon likely to reach the international sporting arena.
In that video clip, tennis star Andy Murray is shown trying his hand at the game, and this kind of high profile attraction to the game should work wonders for its general acceptance at international level. But this should only be a start, for everywhere the game is exhibited, whether it be in China or in England, a favourable impression is created, and this asset must be utilized to the national benefit.
It can only be a matter of time before widespread acceptance brings with it a whole slew of investors who might not be averse to dealing with this invention in a manner inconsistent with the rights of the indigenous inventors. That would be a grave pity, and we therefore urge those in charge of the promotion and development of the game to look to their laurels and make absolutely sure that the intellectual property in this unique game is protected within the law.
If this country is to succeed in a world dominated by technology and by the careful exploitation of intellectual property, then we have to develop a cadre of entrepreneurs who have the ability to spot niches in the market and develop them for their personal benefit and the benefit of their country.
Road tennis presents such an opportunity. It is an unusual niche waiting for exploitation, and as we strive for the further development of our foreign exchange earning potential, we are forced to ask, whither road tennis?