LAGOS- Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has decried low participation of youths in Tennis sporting competitions, especially in secondary schools across the state.
The governor made this known at the Grand Finale of the Second Sanwo-Olu Junior Tennis Tournament at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan in Lagos on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tournament is organised by Vision 2020 Tennis Academy in conjunction with Goldberg Youth Sports Foundation.
The tournament which started on Aug. 7, ended with a grand finale on Saturday with different medals for the boys and girls from ages 10 to 14 .
The three age group competitions are Age 10 below, Age 12 below and Age 14 below for the boys and girls respectively.
Sanwo-Olu said the youths found it difficult to take playing tennis as a career once they clocked 14, and they had not turned to professionals playing competition games.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Lotteries and Gaming Authority, Mr Bashir Are, said this was why the state government had organised the tournament to catch them young.
He said: “Concerning Youths development, the state government under the administration of Sanwo-Olu has a THEMES agenda and youth development is part of it.
“This tournament is very important at this time when they don’t have anything to do so they need extra curriculum activities and the best way to look at it is sports.
“This is the second edition and the state government is definitely passionate about it and we are also doing it with the governor’s name and his support.
“In tennis, by the time they clocked 14, and they have not turned into professionals, then it will be difficult for them to move on with playing tennis as a career.
“So we have the under 14, under 12 and under 10 because in Nigeria right now, we do not have enough tournaments for youths of that age group.”
Sanwo-Olu said the state decided to focus on the three age groups competition in order to catch them young in developing their skills toward tennis competitions.
According to him, As you can see, one of them will be representing the country very soon in an African Tennis tournament.
The governor said though the youths had few tournaments, the state government was trying to make sure it continued with this tournament yearly to support them.
Sanwo-Olu said the tournament would better expose them and also discover some of them that would turn to professionals within two years.
He said now that they were on holidays, they could have something to do meaningfully and it would further help their skills and sporting career.
Speaking, the organiser of the game, Mr Peter Osagie said the purpose of the tournament was to catch them young from 10 to 14 years.
He said: “If you observe, in the last two to three decades, we have not been having players coming up from Nigeria so the tournament is to catch them young as early as possible.
“So the club is aimed at exposing them to the rules and regulations of the game so they can become better players in the future.”
Osagie, a Professional Tennis Coach of the Nigerian Tennis Federation, noted that he was once a player before becoming a coach under the ITF and the ATP.
He noted that the tennis club had been the ground for most tennis players in the country in the last 30 to 40 years, which had been the focus of this club to make them future stars.
Osagie said the aim of the tournament was to encourage them, support them and expose them to the international tournaments all over the world.
“The youths are mainly young boys and girls from the club who have been watching members playing and they indicated interest in playing the game as well.
“Members also encourage them by supporting them with various kits of the game so they can become better players,” he said.
Osagie said the club have an academy where members who were coaches trained the young ones on the rudiments of the game.
He added that there were parents who supported their children to become better players in the future.
One of the winners, Ms Mofiyinfoluwa Atilola said the competition would further expose her to compete favourably with her colleagues.
She thanked the organiser and his coach for the level of exposure given to her during the training.
Established in 1895, The Lagos Lawn Tennis Club is the oldest in Nigeria. The Club which occupies approximately 14,000 square meters, is located at 12, Tafawa Balewa Square, on Lagos Island.
The Club plays host to several tennis tournaments with the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship (GCLT) an annual ITF Pro-Circuit competition with $100,000 prize money.
It is no doubt the most reputable Tennis event in the entire West African Region. (NAN)