By Chris Okunnuwa
About 400 children between the ages of four to thirteen from the Central Senatorial District of Ondo State are currently taking part in the 2022 edition of the Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Summer Tennis Clinic in Akure the state capital.
The number adds up to the 620 children who were trained at the southern and northern senatorial districts of the state, expanding the enrollment for the 5th edition of the clinic to a record high.
The event took off at the Akure Recreation Club, where the convener and wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabarin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, in company of other top dignatories showed her tennis prowess, before highlighting the gains of the clinic in her key note speech:
_It is another great time to hold the racket for our children; to give them good reasons for holding it and show them good example on the right way to wield it. It is also a good moment to pause and ponder on the mileage we have covered since the “Ibadan experience” was put to test in Ondo State._
_After holding the first to the fourth editions of the annual summer tennis clinic in Akure, we deemed it fit to decentralise the programme for the benefit of children in the hinterlands. We took this decision so that geography or any other socio-economic factor would no longer be an excuse for repeatedly denying children within the remote areas the privileges their counterparts in the state capital enjoy._
_This is a telling testimony to the fact that the summer tennis clinic is steadily increasing in leaps and bounds, and this is a big plus for our dear state. Already, about 25 of these children have since excelled as professionals and proud representatives of Ondo State at regional, National and international levels. Since inception, they had participated in at least 15 tournaments at various competitions, including Chevron Opened Champions, SouthWest U-16 tournament, Kayode Fayemi U-17, Kanuna Clay Cut Junior Championship._
Arabarin Akeredolu also revealed that she donated a court for the future tennis greats to practise on, and admonished parents to equally be supportive of the children in this regard during a session with newsmen at Friday’s event.
In her opening address, Chairman Organizing Committee of the Tennis Clinic, Mrs. Olamide Falana recounted the achievements of the clinic in the last five years.
_”The Ondo State Summer Tennis Clinic since inception in August 2017 has changed the lives of some young participants who have gained a sense of belonging, confidence and dreams of travelling the world to play at different championships”._
She also encouraged parents to adequately support the passion of their children in sports, citing the recent breakthrough of Nigeria’s World Record Holder in Women’s Hurdles, Oluwatobiloba Amusan as a perfect example of reward.
Chairman on the Occasion and Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development in Ondo State, Bamidele Ologun commended the governor’s wife for her passion towards developing young minds with a perfect fusion of education and sports through the clinic and other programmes.
_”Her heart of love for the young ones in Ondo State has birthed many programs which are designed to have both short and long term positive effects on the children”._
The commissioner also used the opportunity to extend appreciation to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for supporting the athletes of the state, which has spurred them to win more laurels at the international level.
In different goodwill messages, dignitaries at the event including the Chairman of Akure South Local Government, Gbenga Olaniyi and the President of Akure Reacreation Club, Kola Ademujimi also recounted numerous efforts of Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu in human capital development.
The 2022 Summer Tennis Clinic is the fifth edition of its kind, and it has cut across the three senatorial districts of the state.