…Pledges To Increase Price Money For ITTF Nigeria Open
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday identified the right investment in sports as the necessary impetus that can bring about good performance of Nigerian athletes in sporting competitions, saying that it was time for the country to focus in such direction.
Governor Ambode, who made the reamrks while speaking to journalists at the end of the Seamaster ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open held at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, tagged Lagos 2017, said government and all the necessary stakeholders must now invest more in sports to take the country to its rightful place in the world of sports.
He expressed excitement at the successful hosting of the tournament which attracted Table Tennis stars from 22 countries, saying that the development was gratifying and in line with his vision to use sports as a catalyst for growth and development of the economy.
He said: “We are very happy to have hosted this competition. This is the fourth edition and you can see that this year’s competition has actually attracted more people and then more countries. The idea is to use sports as a catalyst for the growth and development of the economy.
“It is also a catalyst for tourism and it is my strong believe that we must continue to support sports as a means of allowing us to develop the mental capabilities of younger ones and Lagos State is ready to do that.”
When asked whether he was disappointed that no Nigerian qualified for the finals of the competition, Governor Ambode said on the contrary, he was not disappointed but that the development called for greater investment in sports in the country.
“I am not disappointed at all about that. It’s called Nigerian open and so it’s open to everybody and again we had Nigerians in the semifinal. So, we need to do more work and then more coaching and also develop sports. Government has to support sports thoroughly if you want to see Nigerians in the finals.
“I mean you can see the level of skill-set that the Egyptians displayed here and if we say we are giant of Africa, we have to prove it in all ramifications. So, my believe is that government has to spend more time and money in developing sports in this country,” Governor Ambode said.
Speaking on plans for the competition next year, the Governor promised to increase the price money and also the number of participating countries, saying that as the destination for sports in Africa, Lagos must lead the way in promoting sporting tournaments.
“For me, I am going to scale up the price money to attract more people to come for this competition. So next year, you will see more price money and then more countries participating in the competition. Lagos is the destination for sports in Africa and that is the only way we have to go,” the Governor said.
The overall winner of the competition, Assar Omar from Egypt, went home with $5,000, while the first runner up, Gandhi Sarthak from India went home with $2,300.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday lauded the achievements of five-time world cruiserweight and heavyweight boxing champion, Evander Holyfield, describing him as the greatest living boxer of all times.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at Lagos House in Ikeja when he received Holyfield on courtesy visit, said he was personally proud of the achievements of the legend in the boxing field, and described him as a great role model.
Holyfield, who is billed to slug it out with former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at an exhibition boxing match, is in Lagos as part of activities marking the Golden Jubilee anniversary of the State, and to also give back to the society through his foundation.
The Governor, who described the visit of the boxing legend to Lagos as historic, said there was no better way to showcase sports as catalyst for growth than the collaboration of such an icon as Holyfield.
“This is exciting and historic moment for us coming at a time Lagos is celebrating the 50 years of its establishment and we want to say a big thank you to Holyfield for collaborating with us to put this as part of events marking the Golden Jubilee anniversary of Lagos State.
“We believe strongly that in all sectors that we have tried to celebrate Lagos, this is one momentous topic that we really mean to celebrate. As a government, we have always wanted to use sports as a way of driving our economy and there is no way we can showcase sports as the catalyst for economic growth than bringing somebody who is a champion; a revered person and for him to use his God given talent and resources to promote sports in our State,” Governor Ambode said.
While noting the vision of the Evander Holyfield Foundation to nurture young stars and future boxers, as well as the issues relating to promotion of health and wellbeing of the people, Governor Ambode pledged to partner with the foundation to ensure that the set objectives are achieved, especially with regards to the people of the State.
The Governor described Holyfield as the living greatest boxer of all times, a sport icon and a champion who he is proud of his achievements, adding that the visit to Nigeria would also be used to trace the roots of the boxer back to Lagos.
“I love the concept that you want to pay back and that is the essence of leadership which is to be able to touch humanity. There are very many people that go away from their stardom and not pay back and so many champions have not been able to do anything after leaving the ring but Holyfield stand as an exception.
“On the other side, boxing should now be in the front burner of sports in Nigeria especially now that a Nigerian, Anthony Joshua recently won as the unified world heavyweight champion.
“Lagos has the largest concentration of the black people in the world and we just believe that Lagos should be well projected the visit by the boxing legend is also to promote the brand called Lagos,” Governor Ambode said.
Earlier, Holyfield said he was in Nigeria to give back to the society having achieved so much in life especially in boxing.
While recalling how he started boxing at the young age of 8 and became champion at 9, Holyfield said he felt like quitting after initially suffering defeats but his mother told him to hang on.
“I became the person I am because I listened, I followed direction and I did not quit even when I lost. In giving back to the society, I am here to say I got a Real Deal Promotion. We are looking for young fighters who want to listen and follow instruction.
“This is about giving back to the society. I want kids to learn from me how I became four times heavyweight champion,” Holyfield said.
He also announced donation of $3million worth of health equipment to Lagos State Government, a gesture which Governor Ambode commended and urged other sports legends and individuals to emulate
…Receives Queen’s Baton At Lagos House
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday said adequate preparation remained the only panacea for Nigerian athletes to perform exceptionally well at the Commonwealth Games taking place in Australia in 2018, assuring that every effort would be geared towards giving them necessary facilities to prepare.
Speaking at Lagos House in Ikeja after receiving the Queen’s Baton, the traditional curtain-raiser to the Commonwealth Games, Governor Ambode assured that the State Government would revamp all the sporting facilities in the State and make them available for use by athletes representing Nigeria at the Games.
The Governor, who was particularly happy to receive the baton at Lagos House, congratulated the people of Australia for being the proud host of the Commonwealth Games, adding that the development was a wake-up call to Nigerians.
“I like to assure that we will use this particular event to jump-start and reactivate the training of all our athletes that will be going to the Commonwealth Games next year. While I like to charge our athletes, I also like to appeal to the different agencies and authorities that we should ensure that we provide adequate facilities and equipment for all our athletes.
“Like you are already aware, this Commonwealth Games will be hosted in the beautiful city of Gold Coast, Queens Land in Australia and so we believe strongly that proper preparation is the only way that can get Nigeria to win the gold and that is why our government is seriously committed to uplifting all the sporting facilities in the State so that we can use it as a platform to encourage our athletes and also improve on sports development.
“In the last few weeks, we have been trying our best to reactivate the sporting facilities we have in Lagos and in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Sports, we believe that those facilities will be available for all our athletes to use them as we prepare for the Commonwealth Games,” Governor Ambode said.
On his part, Minister for Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, who led the delegation to the Lagos House alongside President of Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr Habu Gumel and Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Lehmann, among others, thanked the Lagos State Government for the reception and other plans at ensuring the best of preparation towards the coming games next year.
The Minister specifically promised collaboration of the Federal Government with any State that is ready to assist in facilitating better sporting activities in their States for the benefit of the country.
“Just as the Governor of Lagos State had indicated, we would continue to collaborate with States that are willing to invest in the transformation of our dilapidated facilities in their States, so that it can be put to use for the benefit of Nigerians.
“The state at which some of the facilities are benefits nobody but if they are transformed, they would be more useful to Nigerians and the young people,” Dalung said