The chairman Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) Engr. Ifedayo Akindoju has said there is a need for the revival of sports culture across the country.
Akindoju who spoke to LEADERSHIP sports said that the reason why the country’s sports sector is not at par with developed countries was due to lack of sports facilities in schools and unearthing talents from of 5 years old.
“The development of Tennis in Nigeria is going at a very slow rate, there’s no shortcut to it, not just Tennis but sports generally. The culture of sports has gone down heavily, the culture of knowing that to participate in sports from the age of 5-years, in time past the sports facilities we have in schools then are no more available.
“Development of sports at the grassroots must be looked into, we must reintroduce sports to our children starting from age 5 in the primary school. It should be included in their studies also the government should create facilities and encourage people to participate. Before we used to have a period for sports in our days but that’s no longer there now.
“Sports should be advertised to the kids, so that they can know that they can even become future champions and have a good future to themselves. We already know that funding to build facilities pay game master schools are the major problem in Nigeria for all the sports.
“So for Tennis, we need to have feeders right from the grassroots to the national level, the development of tennis is growing slow but more support would be need from but the government and private sector for us to get to where we want.
The NTF boss also noted that the government doesn’t have a major role to play as regards sports development, adding that if sports is run as a business venture in the country it would attract corporate and private investors as what is obtainable in the western world.
“Government have no role to play in sports development, the major part they need to play is to support in regards relationships with other countries, if funds are available they could support.
“But majorly sports is a business it’s supposed to be run as a business until it goes that way, the corporate bodies, individuals will not invest in sports.
“Everywhere we have big progression in sports especially in Europe, America, Asian countries their government does play a major role in funding sports, it is the private sector.
Akindoju also revealed that the federation under his watch are working to ensuring Nigerian athletes are ranked among the best 100 to 150 in the world.
“We have players who are ranked in the best 600 in the world at the moment, they need to get more exposure so that they can increase in the rankings, if they get to the best 100 to150 that’s when they can be able to play in the ATP and ITF championships, we are working on that for our players.
“We expect the women to get there before the men because the men’s game is highly competitive, that is why we must grow through the ranks by development tennis from our primary schools to the top-level” he concluded.