By Victor Okoye
Norbert Oshodi, the Managing Director of DavNotch Nig. Ltd., sponsors of the just-concluded DavNotch Tennis Championship, has called for more funding and sponsorship for the sport in the country.
Oshodi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that a lot of tennis talents abound in the country needing more support from private and corporate organisations.
He said more funding and sponsorship were needed in order to harness these talents.
“It’s been impressive having the DavNotch National Tennis Championship, and it shows that we have bundle of talents in Nigeria.
“We hope that more private and corporate organisations can come on board and invest more money in the sport and if that is done chances are that we will be able to discover more talents and the competition will get better as we progress.
“Most of the time,the government spend more money on football because that is the most popular sport,” Oshodi said.
NAN reports that the maiden edition of DavNotch National Tennis Championship ended on Saturday at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Oshodi pointed out that the championship helped to emphasise the need to give more attention to the so-called less popular sports, aside football.
“For example, we say we have a Ministry of Sports but about 80 per cent of the ministry’s budget goes to football alone. So, it only means other sports will suffer if the required funds and investments are not available.
“So, this is what informed our decision to sponsor this DavNotch tennis tournament, which is actually the second one for us, having previously sponsored a wheelchair basketball tournament.
“Hopefully, as we progress as sports lovers, we will take our time to invest in other so-called ‘lesser sports’ as well,” he said.
The DavNotch Managing Director assured that the championship’s next edition of the would be much better, adding that they would be investing more into the project within the next five years.
“We hope that the awareness of the tournament will be better in the next edition with the gradual disappearance of the COVID-19 pandemic and then we hope to invest more in making it a bit more popular and competitive.
“This is the first edition and by the grace of God we are looking to bankroll this tournament for the next five years,” he said.
Ifedayo Akindoju, Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), noted that the championship which was the first competition to be held this year was one of the best in years.
“This is about one the best tournaments we have held in years. All the matches in the different categories were very well competed for and the best players, I believe, won.
“This is the first national tournament we are having this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is being followed by the CBN Open Championship.
”We are indeed very grateful to our sponsors for their support and commitment to the growth and development of the sport in the country.
“The next edition will definitely be greater than this as we will include the junior category into the programme so that we will have a larger tournament next year.
”We are also speaking with the sponsors on increasing the prize money purse,” he said.
Akindoju however noted that his major interest was in the area of participation for the competition, saying that the draws for the qualifiers was full.
“In the men’s event alone, we had 128 players taking part in the qualifiers. Meanwhile, for the main draw, we had 64 players.
“So, what that shows is that we have a lot of interest to play as the players are hungry and so this is an opportunity for them to participate in tennis. It’s a good one to start with and, of course, we are optimistic that it will continue like this.
“We have a whole lot of tournaments lined up between now and the end of the year expected to take place in Abuja, Lagos, outside the country and of course in Benin which will be the last tournament in December,” he said. (NAN)