Wheelchair Tennis Needs Corporate Support


 Frank Tarmena is the national coach of the wheelchair tennis in Nigeria. He spoke with Tennis Special at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos about the state of the game and other issues


How did you feel not participating in the just concluded national sports festival, the Garden City Games, held in Port Harcourt ?

I am not happy about it. The problems started from the All Africa Games, which Algeria hosted in 2007. Algeria deliberately excluded certain games they thought other nations would have advantages of winnig medals in order to win the tourney.

The same thing happened during the sports festival.

I think this contradicts the main aims of organising the festival, which include discovering talents and engaging youth productively in order to curb crime in the society. Wheelchair Tennis has been in existence in Nigeria since 2002 and why it was excluded at the sports festival is still known to me.

I am appealling to the Director General of the National Sports Commission, NSC, Patrick Ekeji, to promote all games in every national sports festival especially in the next edition coming up in Lagos State.

Can you mention some of the limitations to the wheelchair tennis in the country ?

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There are many challenges facing wheelchair tennis, but the most pressing ones are lack of funds and wheelchairs for the players. If these two problems are solved, the sky would be the starting point for the game in the country.

Corporate bodies are not investing in sports in Nigeria compared to the developed nations, what do you think is responsible for this?

It is maladministration. No one would invest his resources in something that would not yield good returns. Most of the funds provided for the development of tennis in the country were not spent judiciously. This discourages corporate bodies from investing more in sports.

As a coach, what are you doing to attract more talents to the sport?

Motivation, you can see me impacting knowledge on my players by teaching them how to play and also playing with them. Most times, I give money to beggars on the streets and promise to give them more, if they can come to the National Stadium, Surulere to train with me.

I’m also organising wheelchair tennis clinic across the country, very soon the clinic will commence in Kogi State. It is sponsored by Golden Penny Noodles. In October, there would be a National Golden Penny Wheelchair Competition. All these programmes would help us discover more talents and prevent streets begging.

What advice do you have for corporate organisations in the country?

I want to implore them to invest in sports development and support wheelchair tennis. By doing this, they are giving hope to the hopeless and at the same, preventing streets begging. The Federal Government has promised to give tax relief to any company that supports sports development in Nigeria.

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