After a delay by the South African embassy, Team Nigeria were eventually issued visas on Sunday and departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in the early hours of Monday, 7 March, 2016 for the forthcoming ITF/CAT African Junior Championship in Pretoria.
|Mary-Love Edwards (left) and Angel McCleod are among stars that Nigeria will be banking on in South Africa|
The seven-man team was originally scheduled to travel for the championship holding from March 8-19 at the ITF High Performance Centre, Pretoria on Saturday but only two members were issued visas.
National junior tennis coach, Mohammed Ubale, who was apparently relieved after what he termed a weekend off frustration, said: “a lady in the embassy called the Secretary of the Nigeria Tennis Federation this (Sunday) morning to come for the visas.
“Although she apologized on behalf of the embassy, she was a bit disturbed that the issue was mentioned in the press stating we shouldn’t have gone that far but I don’t think the embassy should bear any grudge towards us for this because we provided all the documents they requested for on time only for them to derail our arrangements as well as preparations by denying virtually all the players visas for the championship.”
Ubale said the delay which necessitated a change of traveling arrangement cost an additional N25,000 each to the seven-man team but he was more worried by the fact that the team will now have just a day to acclimatize due to the high altitude of the venue.
“Surely, we will be the last country to arrive for the tournament because all the countries are expected to be in South Africa latest by Saturday which was what we planned for.
“Anyway, we will put in our best because the players are determined to do Nigeria proud,” Ubale said.
Alongside Ubale, the players that will be aboard the South African Airline are Marylove Edwards, Angel McLeod, Michael Osewa, Gabriel Friday, Christopher Bulus, Christopher Itodo.
Morocco-based Oyinlomo Barakat Quadri and Adetayo Adetunji, who is based in South Africa, are already at the venue.