TAKANYI Garanganga, whose professional tennis career has been crippled by lack of sponsorship, has taken the modern route and joined other promising athletes at Pledge Sports, a revolutionary new crowdfunding platform that’s designed to help fund professional athletes.
With his sights set firmly on qualifying for next year’s Australian Open, the 23-year-old US-based star became the first local professional athlete to join the Irish crowdfunding website.
By reaching out to their fans and the general public through their Pledge Sports profile page, it also gives professional athletes a chance to raise money to pursue their dreams while also helping build their profile and fan base.
Fans are encouraged to support Garanganga through his profile called The Next Face of African Tennis through donations and in return can receive rewards such as being publicly thanked via social media, raffle tickets to win valuable items and signed merchandise, among others. Garanganga’s decision to join Pledge Sports comes at a time when has failed to get any financial assistance from government and the local corporate world despite putting the country’s flag on the world map.
Takanyi’s father Brad Garanganga, who has personally funded his career from his formative years, recently made a passionate plea to his nation to help rescue his son’s career.
Speaking on his Pledge Sports profile page, The Next Face of African Tennis, Garanganga said after a successful juniors career which saw him being ranked 17th in the world, lack of funding had was a major setback in his pro career.
“Unfortunately, money has been a serious struggle for me throughout my professional career. Because of limited support and funding, coming solely from friends and family, I can’t play the full schedule of events I need to, as I simply cannot afford to do so.
“Thankfully, it’s been through a strong group of supporters that I am where I am today — but there is only so much they can help, and the tether has now pretty much been exhausted.
“I have to cover my training and competition expenses on my own, which at this level puts a lot of strain on the amount of time I can actually dedicate to my training. Tournaments on the Challenger and ATP Tours take place on pretty much every continent in the world, and it’s necessary to compete and perform well in as many as possible to climb in the rankings,” said the Mbare-born rising star.
Garanganga, who will next week represent the country at the Davis Cup Africa Zone Group III tournament in Egypt, said he needed about $10 000 to realise his goal of representing Zimbabwe and Africa in Melbourne, this coming January
“Any support you can give me will be used towards travel costs such as flights and accommodation, training expenses, equipment and competition entries. I need to raise at least $10 000 which will partly cover some of my expenses to compete at the 2015 Australian Open, in January. I feel I really have a chance to achieve my goal of making it this year and know it will make my country, continent and supporters proud. Representing Zimbabwe and the continent of Africa at the grand slams has always kept me driven, but I still need your help!”
Having begun playing tennis at the tender age of 7, Garanganga won the African Junior Championships and competed at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open as a junior player in 2008.
A gold medal at the Mozambique All-Africa Games in 2011 was followed up by five ITF Futures titles in 2012 and 2013 as well as reaching two semi-finals and four quarter-finals on the more competitive ATP Challenger Tour.
Garanganga this year broke into the top 300 of the ATP world rankings and is currently ranked 291 in the world having climbed over 200 spots since last year.