…Pledges to increase price money for ITTF Nigeria Open
By Oluwadamilare Oyedun
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday identified the right investment in sports as the necessary impetus that can bring about good performance of Nigerian athletes in sporting competitions, saying that it was time for the country to focus in such direction.
Governor Ambode, who made the reamrks while speaking to journalists at the end of the Seamaster ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open held at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, tagged Lagos 2017, said government and all the necessary stakeholders must now invest more in sports to take the country to its rightful place in the world of sports.
He expressed excitement at the successful hosting of the tournament which attracted Table Tennis stars from 22 countries, saying that the development was gratifying and in line with his vision to use sports as a catalyst for growth and development of the economy.
He said: “We are very happy to have hosted this competition. This is the fourth edition and you can see that this year’s competition has actually attracted more people and then more countries. The idea is to use sports as a catalyst for the growth and development of the economy.
“It is also a catalyst for tourism and it is my strong believe that we must continue to support sports as a means of allowing us to develop the mental capabilities of younger ones and Lagos State is ready to do that.”
When asked whether he was disappointed that no Nigerian qualified for the finals of the competition, Governor Ambode said on the contrary, he was not disappointed but that the development called for greater investment in sports in the country.
“I am not disappointed at all about that. It’s called Nigerian open and so it’s open to everybody and again we had Nigerians in the semifinal. So, we need to do more work and then more coaching and also develop sports. Government has to support sports thoroughly if you want to see Nigerians in the finals.
“I mean you can see the level of skill-set that the Egyptians displayed here and if we say we are giant of Africa, we have to prove it in all ramifications. So, my believe is that government has to spend more time and money in developing sports in this country,” Governor Ambode said.
Speaking on plans for the competition next year, the Governor promised to increase the price money and also the number of participating countries, saying that as the destination for sports in Africa, Lagos must lead the way in promoting sporting tournaments.
“For me, I am going to scale up the price money to attract more people to come for this competition. So next year, you will see more price money and then more countries participating in the competition. Lagos is the destination for sports in Africa and that is the only way we have to go,” the Governor said.
The overall winner of the competition, Assar Omar from Egypt, went home with $5,000, while the first runner up, Gandhi Sarthak from India went home with $2,300.