In a ground-breaking move, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has increased the prize money of Governor’s Cup Futures I and II by twice its previous amount.
Disclosing this during the closing ceremony of tournament at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Governor Ambode said that it was in line with his administration’s objective to engender players’ development and put Lagos in the international limelight all year round.
Currently, the men’s tournament, which comes with hospitality is a $15, 000 event while the women’s, without hospitality is $25, 000. Both run for two weeks, making it an $80, 000 tournament. When increased, it comes to $160, 000.
This is the first time that the tournament, which served off in 2000, will be witnessing a significant rise in prize money and the attendant upgrading to an ATP event, which will both be implemented in next year’s edition.
While expressing his willingness to continue this tournament, Governor Ambode said that it was high time for value to be added to the game, a statement which hit the right chord with tennis faithful countrywide.
The Governor said: “we believe in the continuity of this tournament. This is something that showcases the future of where Lagos State is going. On our part, we’ve intensified our efforts to ensuring that security of lives and property in Lagos is of utmost importance to this kind of associated tournament.
“On my part, I have given a further commitment that we will ensure that we keep Lagos State safer so that we can attract more tournaments like this one. I am aware that participants have been joining us from overseas because of the benefits that they accrue from the IIT Futures.
“Consequently, I have discussed with the tennis federation because I want to scale up this tournament. I believe strongly in this. We want to move it from an ITF Futures to an ATP tournament. But we cannot do this alone. Before we can move it, we have to assure everybody about the security of Lagos and also provide additional infrastructure and this government is committed to doing both.
“In order to develop our players, I am making a further commitment that I will join the federation to organise the youth tennis academy. One of the things we are doing to sports is to ensure that we are on the international calendar 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By next year, this government will double the prize money on offer”, added Governor Ambode said.