Photos:  Marleen Fouchier

August, 2019

14 YEAR OLD TENNIS TALENT DREAMS OF THE ABSOLUTE TOP IN HIS SPORT

Abel Forger is 14 years old and crazy about tennis. He dreams of being the best in his sport. His parents share the love for the game, and give him full support to go for his dream. A great but very expensive dream. With an impact on the entire family. Peakz spoke to Abel’s father. 

A match in Bremen, followed by the EU youth tournament in The Netherlands and next up is the Windmill Cup in Meppel. One of the most important youth tournaments in Europe under 14, with players from all over the world.

The EU championships in Tsjech Republic is next on the schedule. Abel lives to play tennis. His dream: to become one of the world’s best tennis players.

Crazy about tennis 

“Abel loves the game” says his father Freddy. “He wants to play tennis the entire day. And travel the world. He loves the life around tennis. On his travels he learns a lot of the world and is focussed on tennis day in day out. Sonja (Abel’s mom) and I see it as a family break. And a great excuse to do lots with our children.”

“Abel loves the game” says his father Freddy. “He wants to play tennis the entire day. And travel the world. He loves the life around tennis. On his travels he learns a lot of the world and is focussed on tennis day in day out. Sonja (Abel’s mom) and I see it as a family break. And a great excuse to do lots with our children.” Yes; children, because Abel is not the only tennis talent in the family. Both parents still shine in a high category and passed over their passion for the sport to their 3 sons. The eldest Jonas enjoys the game at club-tennis level, while the youngest brother Tijl now reached 11th place in the under 12 years old category of the Netherlands. Abel became 1st in the boys under 12, and now just became National Champion under 14. “I love tennis, it has it all. You have to do it all by yourself (in the single), it’s tactics, technique and mental challenges.” Abel states about his sport.

“Our costs easily reach 10.000 euro´s annually”

“The only thing we do is follow their dream”, Freddy says. It’s 7 days per week tennis at the Forger family, with a logistic challenge when it comes down to the training schedule. Luckily granddad helps out every week by taking on the drivers-role in the car-poule system with other parents. Abel trains 4 to 5 times a week, including one private training session. Additionally he has 3 physical trainings weekly and at least twenty tournaments per year. Every five weeks he needs new tennis shoes, a new set of rackets, strings and grips. All this adds up accounts for a costly dream at 14 years old.

Expensive dream

What it all costs in total? Freddy rather does not think about that. “I think I’m conservative if I say it costs 10.000 per child per year. We have a fixed arrangement with the tennis academies, the tennis association subsidises a couple of thousand euros and arranges the entries to international tournaments. But we always have other expenses, of course. A drink, entry fees, fuel, material, with 20 tournaments that is about 2.000 euros. Abel and Tijl both have sponsor contracts with Head for their material. And we spend about 1.000 euros on shoes per year. We easily reach 10.000 euros.

Schooling for life

“Yes, it’s a lot of money, but it’s schooling for life.” says Freddy. “Whether he makes it to the top or not, the money is absolutely not wasted. Abel will benefit from this top sports schooling his whole life. He learns discipline, endurance, except disappointments and encounter extreme highs. Through losses he learns how to calculate what is needed for a next win. All in all it’s heads-up of what he will experience at a later age. 

Abel says about these current life lessons: “You loose often in tennis. Actually every tournament, unless you win the tournament. I feel bad about it, but learn from it and continue to make myself better.”

Freddy continues: “The chance that Abel will really reach the top is very small. We do realize that. But we want to give him a chance at pursuing his dream. I hope one day he will look back and think; ‘I would do it all again.’ And when he turns out not to be good enough, but is able to play good college tennis, then he can easily get a scholarship in the US. The 4-year degree in combination with tennis he can enjoy there is also approximately 20.000 euros per year, so there we have our so called ‘investment’ back in one go.”

No business case for sponsors

Most of the expenses Freddy and Sonja pay for themselves. Freddy: “Even though it is sports at its highest level, it still is a hobby for Abel. How can someone fund his hobby? I think it’s difficult to ask people and brands to sponsor Abel. If we then take a holiday, it feels like a sponsor should have something to say about that. To me it feels like sponsor money will end up in our own wallet, and it feels like begging. Which is not my style.”

Freddy thinks the investment needs a business case. Such as the sponsor contract with Head, who sponsors the material for the kids. “This sponsorship was pretty easy.” Freddy says. “Head saw our children in the top 10 of The Netherlands in their age category and so we were contacted through the tennis school by them.” But other possibilities are currently not an option for his sons. “Tennis talent under the top 100 in our country is simply not attractive for sponsors, why would it be? It’s not on tv, never in the media and gets very little live spectators. What can tennis talent outside the top 100 offer a sponsor?”

‘Scoutfunding is the future’ 

“Companies can only make money with the absolute top in tennis” says Freddy, from his business economist point of view. “Talent under the top 100 funding need another solution. Scoutfunding has a future. I believe in this initiative because it’s based on fun. For a small amount people will join for fun. Nobody feels obliged and heavy hearted about a small amount. On a platform such as Peakz it will be the challenge to mobilize the greater crowd to come up with a large amount.”

Ables future

Abel is clear about the future mission: “My ultimate dream is to win a Grand Slam, preferably the Australian Open.” But when taking a look into Abel’s future, Freddy sees quite some financial challenges. “For tennis you need to bring your own entourage; coach, trainer, dietist, travel and accommodation. All costs which will not be covered by prize money. Simply because there is none, until the top 100.” He makes a rough estimation; “If Abel is still at the top of his game around his 18th and wants to continue, then he needs to build the staff around him. This will cost him fifty- to one hundred thousand euros annually. Then he will have to give himself five years to reach the top, which adds up to approximately half a million euros, plus the investment we already made upto 18 years old. Well, earning that money back will only happen if you make it to the top 100.”

Give talent like Abel a fair chance 

Abel is lucky his family can support him on his journey. Many parents are not in the ability to do so. Give all talent a fair chance; support the mission for easier funding on Peakz.com