16th August, 2011
Â Tennis Special caught up with Owolabi Jinadu at the Tennis Court of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos State recently. He spoke on his aspirations, the game and his expectations from the Lagos State Government on next yearâ€™s sports festival taking place in Lagos State.
When did you start playing tennis?
I started when I was nine years old, about eight years ago. I was playing it for fun without giving it a thought that I could earn a living from it. But this changed when I was discovered five years ago by coach Mike Godwin at the age of 12.
He has been encouraging me to stay and get matured in the game. He always assured me that very soon I will get there.
You were at the Garden City Games, where you won a bronze medal. What motivated you?
The state I represented did a lot to motivate me. I was also motivated by my sponsor in the game, whom I would describe as a God sent angel to me. He has been supporting me since I was discovered. The bronze medal is dedicated to Tochukwu Aghadinuno, my benefactor.
How was the experience at the Garden City Games?
It was good. I had the opportunity to compete with other experienced players and made friends with so many people. I really appreciate the opportunity given to me by Delta State to represent the state at the sports festival.
You are an indigene of Ogun State but represented Delta State at the Games. Why did you opt for the latter?
I told you earlier that I was motivated by the state. It was not a gainsaying but a fact. Delta State really took care of the athletes that represented it, before, during and after the games. I couldnâ€™t resist the offer to play for the state because of its package and plans for my career.
What can you say about the Nigerian tennis?
The game is interesting but the players are not encouraged to stay in the game. There is dearth of tournament and players are not well paid. Coaches are not encouraged to put in their best to train the players and the facilities for the game are not in good shape. There is need for urgent action to rectify these anomalies.
What is your aspiration?
I want to be become a world beater. I also aspire to further my education. I just completed my secondary education and sat for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, where I scored above 200. Iâ€™m optimistic that I would gain admission into Delta State University.
What is your advice to the Lagos State government on next yearâ€™s sports festival?
Lagos State is the Centre of Excellence. I expect them to provide adequate facilities. I also want them to create a level playing ground for all the athletes. The syndrome of hosting and winning by all means should not occur this time around. Iâ€™m sure Lagos will give us the best in terms of sporting facilities and organisation of the Games.