17 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos- The 15 junior tennis players who have been invited to a free weekend coaching clinic to be financed by Chevron Nigeria Limited, have promised to seize the once in a lifetime chance to become better tennis stars.
The lucky 15, comprising Akeem Alimi, Michael Ayoola, Azuka Benson, Biodun Rabiu, Lekan Fatus, Emma Idoko, Biola Kuku, James Monday, Wale Obi, Niyi Olatunji, Seun Olatunji, Michael Osewa, Samson Philip, Bidemi Thompson and Onyin Quadri, were chosen from the well over 100 kids who participated at the three-week long 2011 NNPC/Chevron Summer Camp, which came to a close weekend.
Designed to unearth talented players at the junior level, the Summer Camp, according to the coordinator of the project, Chris Enahoro, was initiated to provide a window of opportunity to the many deprived Nigerian kids, whose parents or guardians cannot support their ambition to play tennis.
Enahoro said the objective was to select the deserving ones the chance to benefit from a specialized training programme, which would climax in the week leading to the 2012 Masters, holding sometime in March.
He said that Chevron was footing the cost of the coaching clinic,starting this weekend at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan.
“The coaching clinic will hold on Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 9am-2pm. The players will as usual enjoy the best of coaching from qualified coaches in the country. These players are lucky because all of them are from very poor homes and they now have a chance to better their future.
“It is too soon to quantify what this project means to these players but in the years to come, they will come to fully appreciate what Chevron is doing to them. On my part, I thank Chevron and Engr Femi Odumabo, for the support to the development of junior tennis”, said Enahoro.
Enahoro added that Chevron gave all the players top of the range Babolat tennis racket, costing N25, 000 each and new Wilson canvass, costing N15, 000 per pair.
He said such an investment in the players was bound to be reciprocated by the players, who in turn , have thanked the oil firm for the initiative. They also promised not to let down the company, on and off the tennis court.
While speaking 14 year-old Emma Idoko said that prior to participating at the Junior Camp that he was a mere street boy, hose indigent parents could barely afford to give him three square meals.
“I was just an ordinary person but I now the chance to come from free training from now till next year. I will make use of this chance because I do not know when next I will get this chance again in my life. I am a poor boy from a poor home. My parents cannot afford to even feed me for a day but I now have this chance to become a better tennis player”, said Idoko.
Also speaking, Biola Kuku, said she was going to remain grateful to the oil firm for the chance to further her tennis career, with the coaching clinic programme, serving off this Saturday.
“One day I had nothing but today, I have a tennis racket, a new canvas and now I have been selected for the free coaching clinic. This is just a miracle. It is as if I am dreaming. I am grateful to the sponsors”, said Kuku.
For Onyin Quadre, the only girl out of the lucky 15, her quest to become a better player will take a positive curve when the clinic commences at the Lagos Lawn.
“I am just lucky to be the only girl in this clinic and it is my chance to make it in the game. I would not fail”, she said.
For Chevron’s General Manager, Policy Government and Public Affairs, Engr Femi Odumabo, the kids can always count on the firm to support their tennis development.
“We are there for you as long as you show us proof that you are on the path of progress. We are always there for you, through the years. We are not just doing at the junior level, rather, we hope to sponsors players to the pro tour if the evidence of growth is there. We know that you need us to grow, so we would be there to stimulate the growth for your overall progress”, said Odumabo, after presenting rackets to the players.