Richard Glover was appointed CEO of Tennis South African in late 2016, with a mandate to revitalize the organization at all levels and stabilize the finances of a struggling second tier South African sports federation.
Tennis South Africa, like many Federations in South Africa, faces many challenges – especially in terms of transformation and growing the sport across all communities in South Africa.
However, under Richard’s leadership, and backed by a strong board of directors who are focused on creating world class governance structures, it is facing those challenges head on. In the process, TSA is demonstrating that ‘Cinderella’ Federations in South Africa (i.e. Federations that are not soccer, rugby and cricket) can attract significant corporate sponsorship and create a viable future for themselves.
Indeed, TSA, has in the last 18 months, shown it is one of the most forward-thinking Federations in the country with a clear vision and plan to tackle the challenges it faces….and it is starting to make progress on this plan – ten examples follow:
1. 9 x corporate sponsors secured since mid-2017 – including: Growthpoint Properties, Wiphold, BNP Paribas, KIA, Vodacom and Dunlop. With many of these sponsorships focused on investment in the grassroots of tennis and with a strong female empowerment flavor.
2. Five national development centres being launched in key provinces across South Africa.
3. New high-performance squad programme for the best junior players in the country – boys and girls in the U12, U14, U16 and U18 age groups.
4. Financial support programme – in place for selected Davis Cup and Fed Cup players.
5. New formats like Cardio Tennis and Beach Tennis launched across the country.
6. An agreement signed with Stellenbosch University to build a national tennis centre there and create a tertiary high performance programme for players from all communities in South Africa.
7. A new mixed-gender national club event – Growthpoint Top Guns – launched with innovative new rules and a strong transformation focus. Aimed at growing participation at club level in South Africa.
Perhaps most exciting is some of the work that TSA is doing in the women’s tennis space – including:
8. The creation of a women’s task force to look at all aspects of female tennis in the country
9. The roll out of a new women’s high performance programme to create more female Grand Slam players – supported by Wiphold.
10. A targeted intervention in the form of a new BNP Paribas sponsored coaches mentorship programme – aimed at widening the demographics of coaches in South Africa by creating more sustainable coaching opportunities for both black and female coaches. In year one of the programme 44% of the coaches are black females.
The ‘TSA project’ is still very much a work in progress, but there are some promising green shoots - both on and off the court:
• The SA Davis Cup (men’s) team won promotion to the Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group 1 in late 2017.
• The SA Fed Cup (women’s) team won promotion to the Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group 2 in early 2018.
• The 2018 TSA Growthpoint Junior Nationals saw the biggest field of players in over a decade.
• From a business perspective, TSA has grown its revenue by over 50% in the 2017/18 financial year.
Richard has extensive commercial experience in the sports industry, both locally and internationally, having spent time at both Arsenal Football Club in London and Cricket SA.
While living in the United Kingdom, he also completed his MBA at Kingston University Business School.
Before joining TSA, he was managing director of Frontiers Sport and Entertainment, a sports marketing agency operating in South and East Africa, which he helped launch in 2012.