By John Egbokhan
Worried by the performance of Nigerian players at the ongoing Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Futures at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, a board member of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), Bala Yesufu has called for the activation of individual sponsorship for promising and disciplined players.
Speaking against the backdrop of Monday’s exit of six home talents in the first round of the Futures II, Yesufu predicted that tennis will bounce back to life if more ITF and ATP tournaments were organised locally.
Calling for the engagement of players through periodic organisation of local tournaments, Yesufu said “it is important for our players to be adequately engaged with local competitions. Corporate organisations need to be urged to do more for tennis by either sponsoring competitions in the country or sending talented ones to international circuits to garner points”.
While admitting that the NTF are constrained in terms of funds, Yesufu however noted that the tennis governing body must be more active and ingenuous in harnessing the little funds they get for the betterment of the players.
“The sponsorship sub-team of the NTF should be saddled with the responsibility of enlisting sponsors and government, through the Sports Ministry should for the sake of our players future, give incentives to sponsoring companies, like tax holidays”, added Yesufu, who remains optimistic that Nigerian players will overcome their present predicament.
“I believe in this Nigerian project and remain hopeful that the good days of yore when the likes of Nduka Odizor, Tony Mmoh, David Imonite and Sadik Abdulahi brought honour and glory to our fatherland will soon return to our tennis. This is only a temporary setback, which I believe will not last long if we all join hands together to help our players”, said Yesufu