Team Nigeria players and officials who were issued visas yesterday have departed Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja early this morning for the ITF/CAT African Junior Championship in Pretoria.
The seven-man team was originally scheduled to travel for the championship holding between March 8 and 19 at the ITF High Performance Centre, Pretoria on Saturday but only two members were issued visas by the South African embassy.
National junior tennis coach, Mohammed Ubale, who was apparently relieved after what he termed a weekend off frustration, said: “a lady in the embassy called the Secretary of the Nigeria Tennis Federation this morning (Sunday) to come for the visas.
“Although she apologised on behalf of the embassy, she was a bit disturbed that the issue was mentioned in the press stating we shouldn’t have gone that far but I don’t think the embassy should bear any grudge towards us for this because we provided all the documents they requested for on time only for them to derail our arrangements as well as preparations by denying virtually all the players visas for the championship,” stressed the coach.
Ubale said the delay which necessitated a change of travelling arrangement cost an additional N25,000 each to the seven-man team but he was more worried by the fact that the team will now have just a day to acclimatise to the high altitude of South Africa.
“Surely, we will be the last country to arrive for the tournament because all the countries are expected to be in South Africa latest by Saturday which was what we planned for.
“Anyway, we will put in our best because the players are determined to do Nigeria proud.
Alongside Ubale, the players on the trip include; Marylove Edwards, Angel McLeod, Michael Osewa, Gabriel Friday, Christopher Bulus, Christopher Itodo.
Morocco-based Oyinlomo Barakat Quadri and Adetayo Adetunji, who is based in South Africa are, already in Pretoria.