Dayo Akindoju is the sponsor of the Dayak Tennis Open, one of the ITF Futures which were recently concluded in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.
Naija Tennis Special caught up with him and in an exclusive chat with our correspondent, he explained why he decided to sponsor such a capital-intensive tournament.
He also spoke about the tournament serving the purpose for which it was organized.
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Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
What influenced the decision to sponsor such a tournament?
Passion… sheer passion! My passion for the game, having played it for a long time, inspired me to go ahead with the sponsorship of this tournament. I work in Nigeria, Abuja to be precise and I want Nigerians all over to know, play the game and be interested. They have to watch it live. Being able to bring players from all over the world is something we really want our local stars to appreciate.
The tournament is in its second consecutive year, how would you rate it?
It has been improving over the years; the quality of players, the participation of Nigerians… these have improved over the past two years. In the second week of the ITF Futures, we had so many Nigerians in the second round which showed just how much the players have improved.
|Dayo Akundoju and some of the attendees at the recently concluded ITF Futures in Abuja. Photo: Ewaoche Ameh|
Are you disappointed that Nigerians are not winning?
No, not at all! This is the real deal. It is not giving me any concern. If they cannot win, they cannot win. We have players from US, Canada; it’s a world-standard game. It means we don’t have the kind of players. Hopefully, we can win someday. I am really not worried, you cannot win what you cannot play. They see people who are better than them.
Do you regret sponsoring the tournament?
Not at all! Lots of things are being projected. People came with different perceptions and they leave with different impressions. A lot of players are here for the first time and they all want to come back here next year.
What would be the high point of the sponsorship for you?
For me, the high point would be when a Nigerian wins the tournament. It will show that we have been able to project one player to the world.
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Are we looking at a WTA tournament for the women?
No! Because of all the categories of women we have, they’re all older than 25, save for the one in Morocco (Oyinlomo Quadri).
What then do you think is the solution to this challenge?
All we can do now is support the juniors to build them to understand and be able to play the game now so that when they’re about 16, we can take them to championships outside the country.
You can see the level of tennis we play at the Governor’s Cup and the CBN Open. Even for the men, we have to keep building the junior stars to be able to take over from the senior players.