ABUJA – AVM Saliu Atawodi, sponsor of the first edition of the AVM Atawodi Invitational Tennis, on Friday in Abuja called for increase in the funding of `lesser sports’ in the country.
The championship is holding at the IBB Golf and Country Club, Abuja.
Atawodi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that it was sad to note that the National Sports Commission (NSC) focused more of its attention on football while neglecting other sports.
He said the need to discover new talents and his passion for tennis was responsible for his sponsorship of the first edition of the championship.
“Tennis is not developing a new generation and that is sad.
“Even in the clubs, you find out that the same group of people that have been playing for the past five years are the same players still actively playing.
“No new member coming to register in our clubs. So, we must not allow tennis to die and sponsoring tournaments like this is a way to ensure the survival of the game’’, he said.
He also noted that the game was not well promoted by way of logistic support by sponsors in the country.
“We know that facilities that are solely and largely dedicated to tennis are no enough in the country.
“Yes there are few tennis courts but that is not all there is to the game. We need a whole infrastructure ranging from hostels, tennis courts, balls and kits for the young ones’’, he said.
NAN reports that in Friday’s semi-final matches, Moses Michael beat John Otu in two straight sets, while his younger brother, Thomas Otu edged out the number one seed, Henry Atseye 2-1 after a pulsating encounter.
The finals, which will be played on Saturday, will see Michael do battle against Otu for the championship title and prize money of one million naira.
NAN reports that the five-day tournament, which is featuring the top 16 tennis professionals in the country, served off on Nov. 4 and is expected to end on Saturday. (NAN)