Saturday, 20 December 2014

TENNIS:Ref beaten up in rescheduled league tie

Ref beaten up in rescheduled league tie

I received many calls last week after dedicating the column to table tennis sensation, Aruna Quadri. There are many other promising athletes out there but I singled out Quadri because of the incredible feat of moving from 237th to 30th on the world table tennis rankings and he is also in the gunning for the Athlete of the Year in the sport.
Also in table tennis, there is Ojo Onaolapo who is based in Italy and doing very well. He can do better if the ministry of sports moves fast to help now that it is germane.
In tennis, a coach, Godwin Kienka, came out to state that the game was on the rise. He said there was need to develop the youth system to boost the game. Kienka said: “I am happy we are getting there because the young ones are doing very well now. I was at the Dala Hard Court tournament and the standard I saw was very high.
Again, Moses Micheal who won the Governor’s Cup this year just graduated from the junior cadre a year ago while the number two female player in the country, Sarah Adegoke was also a junior player as at early last year.” These talents need exposure now because over the years in tennis, many of such have emerged but they ended up wasting away due to the poor administrative system. Years ago, Clara Udofa came up strong at 13 years to win national meets beating all the senior players yet she did not eventually make the Grand Slam. Too bad.
Blessing Okagbare was in blistering form at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. She went to the African Championships to also clinch the gold for Nigeria. The Olympic Games is a different ball game and it is important to plan with Okagbare now in concrete terms. The Athletic Federation of Nigeria should identify medal prospects for the ministry to give them grants. But the grants should go beyond just athletics it must cut across other sports.
There is also the case of Jonathan Akinyemi, who is the African Champion in Kayaking, a Rowing event. He recently resigned from paid employment in the United Kingdom to enable him to prepare well for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Nigeria. He also needs assistance to realise his objective of recording a glorious outing in Rio. Wrestling and boxing are traditional sports and today we hear little or nothing about these disciplines. It is absurd.

I advise that the ministry should work towards getting age grade national team athletes in all the sports disciplines. Why not? We have U-13, U-17, U-20 and U- 23 in men and women football. This should be taken to other sports to help in grassroots development and provide a ready pool for national coaches.

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