ITF expert, Illou Lonfo is presently in Abuja, Nigeria on a 5-day visit, and on Monday, he alongside members of the country’s tennis federation paid a visit to the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Ahmed Gumel, OON, in a bid to push for the establishment of a High Performance Centre in the country.
The NTF President, Engr. Dayo Akindoju, the Secretary-General, Mrs. Mariam Akande, Rotimi Akinloye, who is the national coach and technical director of the NTF and also a board member, as well as Abdulmumin Babalola, the players’ representative on the NTF board made up the team that visited the NOC chief.
Lonfo, who’s the ITF Development Officer for West and Central Africa, noted that he’s impressed with the tennis facilities he’s seen in the capital city and is convinced that the country needs a High Performance Centre.
“I’m very much happy and honoured to be before you,” Lonfo said, regarding the NOC President. “Thank you for the good work you have been doing and the ones you’d still do.
“I’ve gone around and seen the facilities the capital has and I’ll state it in my report that Nigeria deserves and needs a High Performance Centre.”
Engr. Gumel appreciated Illou Lonfo and the NTF team for the visit. He further beseeched the ITF expert, who’s an Ivorian, to make the tennis’ governing body see why the country needs a High Performance Centre.
“Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire are one irrespect of the language barrier,” the NOC President said, referring to the ITF rep. “Cote D’Ivoire is like my second home because I’ve worked there for several years. And many of the Federation presidents are my good friends, so I’m very happy to have you here. The Nigeria Tennis Federation is actually the first Federation to visit me since I assumed office,” he disclosed.
“I want to plead with you as a brother to talk to the ITF to please bring the High Performance Centre here, so we can build our tennis and also catch them young.
“You have seen the facilities we have, the number of courts we have. Whatever support you need from me, I’d be willing to help. I, as the NOC President and also an executive member of the International Olympic Committee, will also use my influence to make it happen,” he added.
The Technical Director of the NTF, Coach Rotimi Akinloye, also pleaded with the President of the NOC to help bring the ITF training of coaches to Nigeria—seeing as the IOC is in charge of organising the training of ITF coaches—so we can have good personnel for our players.
And the NOC President acquiesced, saying, “I’d do my best to bring that training to Nigeria so we can have capable hands. I’d seek solidarity from Lausanne, Switzerland to help with the training.”