“It's not a feeling of relief, or even an accomplishment, but more a feeling of ‘Yeah, we actually did all this!’”
The mud, sweat and tears of a seven year journey with Tennis Cambodia North West has been rewarded with former Siem Reap head coach Scott Windus receiving the prestigious International Tennis Federation (ITF) Award for Services to the Game, acknowledging the extraordinary grassroots development results he and his team have achieved.
The award, presented by ITF president David Haggerty in Lisbon, Portugal, last week came in response to the groundbreaking work that started six years ago when the National Tennis Federation of Cambodia, or Tennis Cambodia as it is more widely known, approached Windus to develop the northwest region of the country – a post-war area with a population of five million and zero tennis heritage.
Fast forward six years and local head coach Dun Run, known as Som, whom Scott introduced to tennis only six years ago, has four full-time coaching trainees and another 12 part-time junior coaches.
They have worked with over 4,000 children in the Tennis 10’s Red Ball programme – with 1,600 of those picking up a racquet for the first time.
Along the way, the fruits of this North West programme have delivered no less than seven junior national No1 players for Tennis Cambodia.
“Thank you to all of our amazing supporters who believed in our work and have journeyed with us over the last seven years and to our Cambodian tennis family that now has the capacity to move towards new horizons with their now world-class development skills, knowledge and strength.
“Finally, the privilege to work beside secretary-general Tep Rithivit and his team at Tennis Cambodia and the Global Development Team from the ITF has been an immense blessing and honour,” Windus said after receiving the award.
Rithivit also commented on the occasion: “It’s no surprise that Scott was selected to receive this award as to me he is the most deserving. He is fluent in the Cambodian language, has grown a zero programme in Siem Reap into Cambodia’s biggest junior programme – all as a volunteer.
“Most importantly, he transferred a lot of knowledge to the coaches working with him to ensure the programme’s sustainability. We at the federation have nothing but sincere appreciation and admiration for what he has done.”