Governor Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday declared open the maiden edition of GSM Tennis Championship.
During a brief ceremony held at Ibadan Recreation Club, Sabo, Ibadan, the state Governor, revealed that his administration is ready to produce tennis talents that will compete in the world stage in few years to come.
He said: “It is my pleasure to be here this morning and very happy to see these young talents across. This is what we want to do in Oyo State.
“We want to develop as many of these talents as possible and have our own Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Kevin Henderson, who is about the highest ranked tennis player from the continent of Africa.
“I am sure that, very soon, we will also have people from Nigeria. And I believe that from Oyo State, a tennis talent shall emerge very soon. Mubarak is here and he is a great tennis talent that we have discovered. He is 13 years old and has beaten me several times. So, we will encourage him. We do hope by God’s grace that he may one day be our own Djokovic, number one player in the world. That is how tall our dream about Tennis is.”
”This personal initiative is close to my heart as a lover of tennis, and it is aimed at discovering new talents and nurturing them so that they can compete on the world stage,” says the Sports loving governor.
Governor Makinde who had his Roger Federer level on was very pleased to win convincingly the exhibition match between himself and Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka.
The tennis championship is one out of many other plans by the Government of Oyo State to get the youths in the state to shun criminality and other social vices in the society.
Speaking at the event, the Organizer of the 3-day event, Hon. Tobi Oyewumi who is the Special Assistant to the Governor on Sports Development said that the tournament was in commemoration of the “long-standing history of investing and developing the capacity of younger generations in the area of tennis.” He added that the event is designed to discover and nurture the future players and champions in Tennis game.
“I would like to specially thank the governor, who believes fervently in the youths and has given the youths of this state the opportunity to spread their tentacles. Your love and vision towards the development of sports can be seen and felt throughout the state,” he added.
Similarly, Asiwaju Seun Fakorede, the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports, described the event as epochal, noting that a lot of things have taken a new shape in the state since Gov. Makinde assumed office as governor, with sports development being one of them.
“I see it as a great privilege for us in Oyo state, to have someone like His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who is not just a sports lover, but someone who actively participates in sport.
“I just want to use this opportunity to once again appreciate His Excellency for love and for giving us an enabling environment to promote sports in Oyo State. Look at what is happening in Adamasingba Stadium and also many other projects that are coming up in different zones of the State. It can only take a visionary leader to see that and also plug into the opportunity,” Fakorede said.
The event which started on Tuesday 22nd will end on Thursday 24th, with 112 players competing for honours.