*Six training centres, two per Senatorial district
May I with nostalgia and pain remind this gathering how some years ago, when you talk of handball and youth level, especially the female, two states will hit the mark, Ondo and Borno. No year passes by without a team leaving for abroad. In the last eight years, that has become history.
Please get a diary. Write today’s date down. Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu initiated a tennis clinic and sought, got and secured a new future for Ondo sports. Thanks also for Otunba Gbenga Elegbeleye who knows what we are up to and brought us into the Ondo project. You have the first of six regional National Sports Development centres. You have the first deliberate, private, hope-giving guaranteed future for your youths. Ondo people, please accept our congratulations.
Permit me to quickly run by history. In 1994 when Nigeria qualified for the World Cup for the first time. We all raised funds to privately manage that campaign. That fund managed under the office of then General Oladipo Diya funded the Nations Cup we won in Tunisia. The remnant of the funds was used to drive the preparation for Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The unspent balance was used to set up the NSDFI.
In our return, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) gave us N10million, our first seed fund. That led to the pilot we have in Offa in Kwara State. Ondo state today has gotten the first of six National Development centres.
For the children, parents, communities and groups who participated in this clinic, your tomorrow is guaranteed. No enough thanks to Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu’s vision and drive.
Ours is community-driven, private and non-governmental. We shall create no less than 5,000 jobs at optimum speed. We shall, with you, if His Excellency permits, officially launch within one month this project. We shall raise no less than N500million yearly which you, the people, shall manage to produce new champions from this state.
His Excellency, you must be one of the best and luckiest governors of this state in sports. Three daughters of yours in wrestling at the world stage did our nation proud some days ago. Odunola Adekuruoye became number one in the world. Will you permit us to request you will honour these amazons when you are officially launching this initiative. No other governor in Nigeria has this record you have.
Now, before I escape out of here. Ondo state shall have six centres to produce hundreds of Adekuruoyes. So, the six sports to benefit from this vision are tennis, wrestling, weightlifting, athletics, handball and baseball.
I hope His Excellency will not punish me for exploiting this opportunity. 100% of the funds to manage this product will cost your government zero Naira. Ondo deserves a sports commission not a sports council to tap into the future. We are Oliver Twists. We wish you will target your next budget’s capital development votes to suit the infrastructural needs of these functions we are driving with an eye on hosting both national and international sports in places like Akure, Ikare, Idanre, Okitipupa etc That is the new way. In three years, no less than 50,000 young, strong and energetic population of your citizens will be foreign exchange earners and global sports citizens. Now, is the time to start to prepare for that movement.
Thank you Your Excellencies for listening to a seed planted in 1976 from No 22 West of Mines street in Jos, son of poor parents who started playing for Nigeria in 1979 and retired in 1999 after doing five different sports and becoming one of the very first exports to Zamalek SC of Egypt. Yet, there are over one million superior versions in the streets of this state.
Myself, Nduka ‘The Duke’ Odizor, our nation’s most accomplished tennis icon. Please rise to be acknowledged. First Nigerian to do five Olympics and securing 39 gold medals for the nation including two Olympic bronze medals, Chief Mary Onyali (MFR). And nine others: Aruna Quadri, Funke Oshonaike, Chika Chukwumerije (Taekwondo), Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin (Weightlifting), two of us are late in DSP Sunday Bada and coach Shaibu Amodu. Blessing Okagbare. Chioma Ajunwa-Opara are behind this project. That is the array of stars we want to reproduce higher versions from here.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of NSDFI led by Chief (Dr) Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu ask God to bless you for allowing us to take your state with a sports revolution.
Speech by Mr Olajide Fashikun, Director General of Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) at the closing ceremony of the Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu tennis summer clinic in Akure on Saturday 2nd September 2017.