Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola, (L) presenting the 2012 Governor’s Cup to the Men’s Singles winner, Enrique Lopez-Perez of Spain, in Lagos at the weekend James Agori
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Saturday canvassed for more encouragement for local tennis talents, saying aside the fact that the game is based on point system, it also has a huge tourism potential.
Governor Fashola, who spoke to journalists at the Lagos Tennis Club venue of the 12th Governor’s Cup Finals of the Lagos Tennis Tournament, said by encouraging local participation, the players would garner points at each tournament to graduate eventually into big time players.
Noting that some reports in the media had criticised the tournament as non-Nigerian, Governor Fashola said the criticism only underscores what must be done to encourage the young local talents to continue to play and increase their points in the Game adding that it would also boost the economy of the State and the country through its tourism potential.
According to him: “I have seen reports that the tournament is non-Nigerian, but it speaks to the work we all have to do to encourage the game. Tennis, like many other games, has no local affiliation; but that is no reason we should not encourage it.
“No Briton has won a tennis tournament in 70 years, but they continue to sponsor it; you know why? It is because it is big tourism. Again, it is a point system. This tournament is perhaps the only ITF recognised tournament in the whole of the sub-region. There are about 55 countries that registered for this tournament.”
The Governor, who played two exhibition matches with the President of the Nigerian Tennis Federation, Sani Ndanusa and the Group Managing Director of First City Monument Bank, Mr. Ladi Balogun, said with such huge inflow of participants from all over the world, the local airlines would benefit while the hotels, taxi drivers and other stakeholders would also benefit adding that as long as the tournament lasted the economy of the State and the country would be the better for it.
Governor Fashola later presented prizes to the winner of the Tournament, Mr. Enrique Lopez Perez from Spain and the 1st runner-up, Mr. Raun Roelofse from South Africa.