An Octogenarian and tennis veteran, Etubom Charles Duke (88) has called on sports clubs in the country to sponsor and promote the game among the young ones.
Speaking at the Calabar Sports Club during the closing ceremony of the Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke Tennis Championship for primary and secondary schools organised in his honour by the Cross River State Sports Commission, Duke called on sports clubs to evolve measures that would foster the discovery of future generation of tennis players to encourage growth in the sport.
Duke, a retired Personnel Manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) advised sports clubs to liaise with government through the sports commissions, local governments and interested stakeholders to initiate clinics and practical sessions to help youths develop interest in the racket sport.
He noted that such sessions should be organised during vacations and long holidays, to dissuade the youths from vices and crime, reluctance and idleness.
“You should encourage them to come around and some of them through ball boys can become masters of the court just like some of the celebrated stars of today started from the scratch,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Calabar Sports Club Acting Secretary, Mr. Michael Egbudu, recalled that the club, established since 1898, relocated to its present location with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the sports commission to boost the game.
He called on the state government to complete the proposed master court billed to host the expected 19th National Sports Festival so that the club can allocate some space within the complex for the grooming of the younger talents.
Explaining the reason for the championship, Chairman of the Sports Commission Otuekong Orok Otu Duke, said it was to celebrate the honoree’s feat in the game in his lifetime, adding, the competition, which is for schools in the Calabar metropolis, would be expanded to become statewide subsequently.
Duke revealed that those discovered in the male and female categories of the championship would be groomed to form the state’s team, which would be exposed further.
The highlight of the closing ceremony was the male final between John Patrick Odok and George Odok, both of St. Patrick’s College, Ikot Ansa, which Odok won by