The wife of the Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, yesterday set the course of history as she officially launched the kick off of the State Summer Tennis Clinic for children between the ages of 4 and 13 at the Township Stadium, Akure. At the event, Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, was ably represented by his Deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi.
Arabirin Akeredolu, who affirmed the readiness of the Akeredolu-led government to make Ondo State the tennis hub in Nigeria also noted that it was high time Ondo State began to produce her Serena Williams, thereby building a future of champions of the game in Nigeria and the whole world at large.
Mrs. Akeredolu, while observing that Ondo State has, in the past, produced national and international players such as Princess Rolake Olateru Olagbegi, Sir Segun Balogun and the umpire at the Wimbledon, Prince Wale Olateru Olagbegi, regretted the fact that Nigeria had now become a sleeping giant, thus calling for steps to be taken to retrace the course of history.
“This clinic is essentially to identify and develop talents in our children. It is important to encourage sports development among youths in the state, particularly at the grassroots level to discover and develop potential and skills of the young ones, who are capable of becoming champions.
“The benefits of catching our youths young, especially in sports cannot be over emphasized. Let us look at champions like the Williams sisters; Venue and Serena Williams, who started as young as three years and have gone on to win numerous awards and break glass ceilings, not to talk about Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Billie Jean king just to mention a few.”, she stressed.
“This tennis clinic that we are laying its foundation today is not a government thing. You can cue into it. Let nobody wait for Arakunrin to bring money here”, she added. Mrs. Akeredolu, however, expressed optimism that the beneficiaries of the project would be empowered to develop independence and confidence through taking on new challenges as well as being mentored into greatness.
In his remark, Hon. Ajayi acknowledged the visions of the First Lady as being deeply rooted with far reaching effect, stressing that she has, indeed, been touching on all the critical aspects of the economy. Earlier, in his welcome address, Engineer Olumuyiwa Sonuga thanked the First Lady for the initiative, while urging parents to continue to encourage their children to follow through with the programme, noting that it is a source of gainful employment for them in the future.
In her goodwill message, Mrs. Rolake Kazeem (nee Olagbegi) charged children to take advantage of the opportunity given them, stressing that there are many opportunities in tennis. She challenged parents to be a part of the project as plans are underway for an after school training session for the children.
Also, in her goodwill message, Chief Mrs. Idowu Akinbulumo urged parents to ensure full participation of their children in the course of the programme. The event also featured other side attractions, which include a jogging exercise led by Arabinrin Akeredolu and an exhibition match between the wife of the Governor’s team and the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayis.