The NCC Tennis League which is the biggest sports event introduced to the Nigerian sporting calendar since independence has attracted six more investors who are raising teams for the 2019 edition. In addition, the top 10 players, men and women, are getting N300,000 sign-on fees from team sponsors.
This was revealed over the weekend by Godwin Kienka, Director of the International Tennis Academy, organisers of the event, at the finals of the CBN Senior Championship where he was a special guest.
Mr Kienka who is reputed for his far- reaching tennis development initiatives in Nigeria said some of the new investors include the Dala Hard Court Incorporated which owns and runs the ‘age-long’ Dala Hard Court Championship in Kano. Others are Team OAK which will be based in Abuja and Team Tovie playing out of Lagos. Three others with home bases in Makurdi, Aba and Enugu are yet to decide on team names.
Meanwhile, teams have started the race to sign-on the top 20 players with some of them attracting as much as N300,000 in addition to the full range of tennis equipment. Team Leadway Assurance appear to be the most attractive bride going by feelers from the players.
Joseph Imeh, immediate past No.1, said the NCC Tennis League is the best thing to happen to sports in Nigeria in recent times.
“See how many people (new players) are coming to the game. Most of us have relocated our parents from abacha (one roomers) to flats and set up small businesses for our mothers. Go and ask others!” Imeh, who was runner-up in the men’s doubles at the CBN Championship, said.
Organisers said they were hoping for an early start this year in anticipation of more applications from teams as the tennis league was “spreading like wild fire” fueled by the attendance in the 2018 finals by the amiable Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and the then Minister of Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung.
“The elections and the transition may have slowed things down but we are standing on the promise of the EVC who promised to “continue to pour resources into the project” which he noted was “clearly empowering our youth and pointing them in the right direction.”
The NCC Tennis League, the first of its kind in Africa, offered N7 million to the champions, N5 million to the runners-up, N3 million to third place and N2 million to the fourth place.