By Temitope Adedeji
No fewer than 400 children have been prepared to participate in the 2021 Ondo State Summer Tennis Clinic coming up between September 13th and 18th, 2021 in Akure the state capital.
This is part of efforts by the wife of the Ondo State Governor, Akeredolu Rotimi, Arabinrin Betty Akeredolu, in promoting and bringing out the talents among the younger generation in the state.
Briefing newsmen on Tuesday evening at Rotunda Government house Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital about the forthcoming international event, the Coordinator of the Summer Tennis Clinic, Mr Seun Betiku, said the initiative is a vision of the First Lady to raise Tennis Champions like Serena Williams.
He said about 1,000 children had participated so far, through which 150 talents were discovered.
According to the Coordinator, who said the purpose is to help the little talented children discovered their heavenly given talent hidden in them.
He said further that the talents discovered have been metamorphosed into the Arabinrin Junior Tennis Club where they’re being groomed, and had participated in 15 tournaments.
He added that the Ondo State Summer Tennis Clinic is a citizen-driven initiative, while its offshoot, Arabinrin Junior Tennis Club, is fully funded by the first lady, as most of the kids are indigent, hence couldn’t afford rackets, balls, and other playing kits.
Betiku noted that the clinic is an annual event, and children were admitted free of charge, due to the love Her Excellency had for Tennis, which is her family’s favourite game.
Earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Press Secretary, office of the First Lady, Ms Tobiloba Fademi, explained that the essence of the media briefing was to showcase the successes recorded by Ondo State Tennis Clinic in National tournaments within the shortest period of its existence, under the Arabinrin Junior Tennis Club.
She hinted that three successful editions had been organised, except in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; noting that the Summer Tennis clinic involves children between ages 4-13-year-olds.
The coach of the Summer Tennis initiative, Mr. Sunday Mayowa, announced that 14-year-old Moses Olamilekan, who joined in 2018 as a greenhorn, participated in a tournament in southwest Nigeria same year, and reached Quarter-final. He also got to Semi-final at the CBN tournament in 2020 out of 16 states that took part
Also, Henry Anu participated in a Southwest competition to a semi final level, while Hadiza Imole reached Semi final in Southwest Junior Tennis tournament in 2021.
Agbeje Peace, who joined the clinic in 2017 at age 9, participated in a tournament that involved 15 states the following year, and got to Semi-final stage.
He averred that, with the level at which the kids are performing excellently at national competitions, it’s a pointer to achieving the goals of Her Excellency for birthing the initiative.
He affirmed that both remuneration of coaches, provision of tennis kits for the children, and their trips to tournaments outside the state were solely sponsored by the First Lady.
The coach explained further that the discovered talents, who formed Arabinrin Junior Tennis Club, were being groomed under three categories; under-12, under-14, and under-16; adding that they would still be under mentorship when they exceed 16 years of age as it is nationally recognised.
He decried lack of support by parents, noting that parents should not discourage children who indicate interest in tennis clinic.
At the end of the media chat, it was unanimously concluded that there’s a need for sponsorship of the discovered talents to more national and international competitions, by well-meaning individuals and organisations.
It could be recalled that the two weeks Summer Tennis Clinic, an initiative of the wife of the state governor, Chief Mrs Arabinrin Betty Akeredolu, was founded in the year 2017 and has produced young tennis players who have participated in national competitions.