Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State 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 his administration’s desire to allow for production of tennis stars that will compete at the world stage in few years to come.
He said: “It is my pleasure to be here this morning and I am very happy to see these young talents. This is what we want in Oyo State.
“We want to develop as many of these talents as possible. We desire to 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”, Governor Makinde added.
The sports loving Governor expressed optimisms that his state, which had in the past produced arrays of sports stars including Waheed Ekun, Haruna Quadri, Mutiu Adepoju and Rasheed Adesokan among others, will soon turn out future tennis stars.
“And I believe a tennis talent shall emerge very soon from Oyo State. 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”, GSM predicted.
On the newly inaugurated GSM Tennis Championship, Governor Makinde declared:
”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 at the world stage”.
In the exhibition game played to kick start the competition, the Governor displayed his tennis skills and convincingly beat his Chief of Staff Chief Bisi Ilaka.
Speaking at the event, the Organizer of the 3-day tennis tournament Hon. Tobi Oyewumi who is the Special Assistant to the Governor on Sports Development said that the tournament was the continuation of his “long-standing commitment to investing and developing talents and capacities of younger generations in the area of tennis.”
Oyewumi added that the event is designed to discover and nurture the future players and champions in the game of Tennis.
“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.
Also speaking at the event, the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Asiwaju Seun Fakorede 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 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 takes a visionary leader to perform these feats” Fakorede said.
The maiden GSM Tennis Championship which started on Tuesday 22nd will end on Thursday 24th, with 112 players competing for honours in the three day competition.
The tennis championship is one out of many other initiatives of the State Government to discourage youths of the state from engaging in criminality and other social vices in the society.