For Africa’s highest-rated table tennis player Quadri Aruna, it was expected to be a brief meeting, but it all turned out to be more, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday, October 19.
It was full of banter about Sanwo-Olu’s skill in the sport and serious issues, such as boosting sports to support the youth in their bid to develop their talents. The Governor told the superstar of his administration’s efforts to improve the lot of the youth through sports. The government is building nine stadiums in various parts of the state, he said. The state’s teams are in Kwara for a national competition, the Governor said, adding that he would continue to support the youth in sports.
Aruna, who is in Lagos to open his academy, visited the governor at his Marina residence. He praised the governor’s efforts in promoting sports across the state while pledging his support to complement the Governor’s efforts by mentoring athletes through his academy.
The governor was visibly happy with the visit by Aruna whom he described as a good example of a complete athlete whose performance continued to put Nigeria on the world map. He wishes he could play with the star and his wife Ganiyat, who is also a player.
“I am impressed with your performance across the globe and we are happy to receive you in Lagos. We believe we can produce more Quadri Arunas for Nigeria in Lagos State and we are in the process of constructing 10 stadiums across the state because we believe creating a conducive environment for sports to thrive is key to producing superstars in sports. Our youths are at present in Ilorin competing and we will continue to support and hope that more superstars can come through these efforts,” the governor said.
Aruna who was accompanied by the Deputy President of Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Wahid Enitan Oshodi, believes Lagos has provided platforms for most athletes in Nigeria to showcase their skills to the world, particularly with the state’s strong support for the annual ITTF-sanctioned Nigeria Open, which attracts stars from all continents.
“I am happy to meet with you as I am here to thank you for the efforts you have been making to improve the fortunes of sports in Lagos. I am also expressing my appreciation to you for providing the platforms for athletes like me to showcase my talents to the world through the Nigeria Open which I have won twice. I am hoping that through my academy, I can partner the state in mentoring more athletes that can exceed what athletes like me have achieved globally,” Aruna said.