Why Nigerian Tennis Is in Decline

•Abamu Collins

•Abamu Collins

•Abamu Collins

Abamu Collins tells Tennis Special about his career  and the reason the game is not growing in the country

For how long have you been playing tennis?
It is more than a decade now.  I started playing the game about 12 years ago.

Why did you opt out of the game for a while?
I decided to stop playing tennis because of my  academic career. I want  to focus on my study. Although  some people believe that there is no big deal in combining education with tennis, it depends on the course you are studying and the opportunity it offers you to do  other things. It also depends on the importance you give to your education.

Some schools do not give their students freedom to skip lectures and other activities. They don’t even care about the medal you win outside the school, you are on your own if you miss an examination. So, I need to give it my utmost attention.

Which course are you studying ?
I’m studying Computer Science at Yaba College of Technology and I’m in my first year in the school.

What do you think is responsible for the low level of development in the game?
The cause of the problem is obvious, but I’m not in the best position to say it. If people at the top cannot say the truth about the game, who am I to say it.

I have been ranked as number ten player in the country but never invited to the national camp.  Some of the players that were ranked below me were invited because they have godfathers at the top. Players are not invited to the national camp on merit; it’s those that have their men at the helm of affairs that have their ways in to the national camp.

It was  because of this  that I decided to further my education  in 2008. I need to secure my future through education.

Are you satisfied with the way players are discovered and nurtured in the country?
It is not encouraging at all. The players need to be discovered at age of five and exposed to the rudiments of the game early in their life. But all these factors are not considered in this country. Players need to be monitored. They  also need to  play in international tourneys.

I was not allowed to play in the National Sports Festival on the excuse that I had featured in the Governor’s Cup being an  International Tennis Federation, ITF,  approved tourney. It was painful that playing in the sports festival could have helped my game locally.

This attitude of the officials is slowing down the pace of development of the game in the country. They don’t encourage young players to grow at all.

Why are corporate bodies not showing interest in the game again?
There are sponsors but not enough for the development of the game. Northern  based players get more sponsors to play in notable tourneys in the country than those in the south.  I just want to urge corporate organisations to show more interest in the game.

Why did Nigerian players find it difficult to compete with their foreign counter parts at the Governor’s Cup?
We could not compete with them because we hardly play competitions in this country. . The foreign players  move from one country to another to play while we only have two competitions to play in a year here.  They are more  fit and exposed to modern techniques in the game.

What do you think the federation needs to do to ensure that Nigerian players fixture in the circuits around the world?
They need to put in place a good developmental programme to discover and nurture  local players. They need to encourage more sponsors for the players to participate in local and the ITF organised tourneys.