Following Illou Lonfo’s visit to Nigeria, the Technical Director on the NTF’s Board Member Committee, Coach Rotimi Akinloye, has shared his thoughts on the Ivorian’s visit, lauding the 45-year-old Ivorian and hoping there will be more visits

Illou Lonfo, the ITF Development Officer for West and Central Africa, visited the nation’s capital, Abuja, last week, as the Nigeria Tennis Federation sought to drive forward her push for a High Performance Centre in the country. Part of Lonfo’s visit, therefore, was to access the tennis facilities in Abuja, as well as a meet with coaches.

And Coach Akinloye, who played for Nigeria at the Davis Cup in 1987, has sounded very impressed with how the week went.

“I’ve known him [Illou Lonfo] since he was a very competitive player,” Akinloye said. “He’s a very sound ITF expert; it’s no surprise that the ITF sent him here.

“He brought his wealth of experience to the technical workshop with our coaches. He came to impart the new teaching methodologies to our coaches, and I think from what I’ve gathered while he was here, it goes on to confirm the way I hold him in high esteem.

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L-R: Illou Lonfo, NTF Secretary-General, Mrs. Mariam Akande, and Coach Rotimi Akinloye at the National Tennis Centre, Abuja, after a session with the coaches last week.

“I’d rather want to see him come back quite often because he brought what ITF wants every tennis developing nation to achieve, that is by using the modern teaching methodologies both in the technical and tactical aspect.”

Akinloye, who’s also an ITF instructor, underlined the impact the workshop will have on Nigerian coaches, and hopes the coaches will put to good use the methods they were introduced to.

“For every coach that took part in that technical workshop, it afforded all of us the opportunity to upgrade the way we teach, myself inclusive,” the national head coach said. “I only pray that our coaches can use the new coaching methods that they were exposed to.”

Lonfo, during his visit to the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Gumel, last week, said, having seen the facilities in Abuja, Nigeria deserves and needs a High Performance Centre and promised to include the recommendation in his report to the International Tennis Federation. Coach Akinloye is now optimistic about Nigeria’s chances of getting it, knowing the ITF expert was ‘quite satisfied’ with what he saw.

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Illou Lonfo in a handshake with the NOC President, Engr. Gumel. Both men are flanked by Abdulmumin Babalola (L) and Coach Rotimi Akinloye.

“I know every country and their facilities here in the subregion [West Africa]. Nigeria has the best facilities so far, and from my discussions and various inspections we went for, he [Illou Lonfo] is quite satisfied.”