Team Offikwu has won the NCC Tennis Cup 2016 and taken home the star prize of Seven Million Naira N7million), after upsetting the defending champions (Tombim) who took home- N5million) on Sunday at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (LLTC), Onikan, Lagos; ITRealms reports.
Before the all- exciting but over-stretched grand finale game, Team Civil Defence had won the Third place prize of N3million having beaten Team FCT to the Fourth position with N2million prize.
Speaking at the grand finale of the tournament, Solomon Dalung, Minister of Youth and Sports, commended NCC for setting the tune in line with the policy direction of the Federal Government by inviting the private sectors’ interests to sports development.
“This national league, Dalung said, “Was organized in all the six geo-political zones of this country including Abuja, without the Federal Government giving a dime as intervention. Yet, it has been a very huge success; evidence that if Federations organize themselves very well there are so much for them to benefit from sponsors.
“I want to congratulate the young people that have won in various categories including sums of cash prizes. This is an indication that in hard work there is a gain. I want to encourage the young people to use this period of their youthful lives to participate in sports because there are employments, wealth and ‘weapon’ in sports that you can use to combat poverty”.
The minister re-echoed Federal Goverbnment’s resolve to continue to invest in sports while dropping the hint that the government would take more active interest in the development, governance and administration of the various Federations to ensure that transparency, accountability and management of resources remain the order of the day.
Also speaking at the event, Professor Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) descried the feat as a total accomplishment on the part of NCCin view of the excitement and personalities that graced the grand finale.
Danbatta who was represented by head of Public Relations at the Commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka, noted that the Minister had followed up on the NCC-sponsored tourney from the fixtures through the start- of till the finals.
He appreciated the minister for his sense of humility, commitment and endurance which he displayed by attending the tournament and sitting through to watch every match in spite of his tight schedule in office.
“This shows a great support to what NCC is doing. NCC is encouraged. We are happy the way it turned as the best team emerged the winner.
“This team is new in the tournament and they actually invited players even from abroad. The NCC Tennis League has come to a stage when teams buy players while giving home based players succour. The league has brought about stiff competition and the best Nigerian players are participating too.
“NCC had at the maiden edition in 2015 spelt out the aims of the League as a way to take top flight tennis to different cities and parts of the country which has never hosted such tennis events; to develop squads that will attract sponsorship and get high level coaches attached to teams.
“The tournament is also regarded as an avenue created by the NCC to provide some substantial prize monies that will enable top national players invest in their professional tennis careers and attain a world ranking that will enable them create wealth for themselves, their families and the nation.
“We also value this tournament as an avenue to introduce many more weeks of tennis competition into the Nigerian tennis calendar that will allow national players compete regularly and achieve some rapid improvement in skill levels,” he added.
The final match between Sylvester Emmanuel representing Offikwu, the highest ranked Nigerian on the ATP circuit, and Moses Michael, national champion who represented Team Tombim ended at 6-2; 6-1.
Dignitaries on the occasion also included former Vice-President, Alex Ekwume and Barrister Rotimi Edu, Chairman, LLTC; Nduka Oduzor, among other dignitaries.
In his post-victory chat with media practitioners, Sylvester Emmanuel extolled NCC for organizing the tournament which he said add glamour to the tennis calendar in Nigeria.
“This season has been a wonderful one for me and the team and we hope 2017 will be there. In the coming year, I will be playing more of the international competitions; I will be moving to Barcelona for the training and tournament”; the new champion said.
He recalled that in the past, local players used to complain of lack of competitions, but the NCC tournament and others have now provided real opportunity for young tennis players to prove their worth on the game.
Emmanuel who doubles as Team Offikwu captain, added: “It means a lot to us as players, because we had just two tournaments- the CBN and the Dalung Cup. But with this king of league as organized by NCC, you will know there is tournament to play each week; traveling from one State to another.
“The organisers really did very well. I want to give them all the credit and we hope they continue”.ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!