Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the commission has earmarked N23 million for this year’s NCC Tennis Cup tournament.
Danbatta made this known in Lagos, during the unveiling of the 2017 NCC Tennis Cup and the draw for the participating teams for the tournament.
The NCC boss said that the tournament, which entered its third edition, had attracted best home and foreign tennis players.
Represented by the Director, Special Duties, NCC, Mrs Iyabo Sholanke, he said that 12 teams had been selected for the competition, which would be held across the country.
According to him, N17 million is the cash prize for the four best teams, while N6 million will be disbursed to the 12 teams towards their preparations for the tournament.
“We have maintained the same prizes of the 2016 edition for the 2017 edition.
“Therefore, the winning team will receive N7 million, the second best will go home with N5 million, the third will receive N3 million, while the fourth will earn N2 million for their efforts.
“The number of participating teams have also increased from 10 last year to 12 for this edition.
“All the teams will receive N500,000 each to support their preparations for the tournament,” he said.
The EVC said that the idea of the tennis tournament was to harness talents for the growth of the sport in Nigeria.
He said the tournament was one of the unifying sporting activity which had generated excitement across the country.
Danbatta said that part of the objectives of the sponsorship was to give recognition to top tennis players, through prize monies and empower them to launch professional careers abroad.
He said that it will also attract sponsorship to teams, which could train them with professional coaches as members of a squad.
According to him, 10 of the top players have received ranking by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in the past two years.
“It is worth repeating that our choice to sponsor this tournament was guided principally by our commitment to be socially responsible.
“And to invest in the development and sharpening of skills of our citizens, who could develop to the point of making living with this sport and also doing the nation proud by winning laurels
“We are fulfilled with the impact, which this tournament has made in the Nigerian tennis circuit.
“We are proud to have used this opportunity to engage a number of Nigeria youths in a very fruitful and engaging enterprise with a bright future outlook.
“We are proud to have taken tennis to locations where high quality tennis has not taken place in a long time,” he said.
The EVC said that the NCC Tennis Cup was a team tennis competition that was opened to all, including the very best male and female tennis players in Nigeria.
He said that the tournament increased competition among the players, which was an advantage, when it came to preparation for other competitions within and outside Nigeria.
Danbatta said that the tournament was endorsed by the National Tennis Federation (NTF) and had stakeholders in the Nigerian sports and telecommunications industry.
The 12 teams were categorised into two groups of White and Blue.
The teams under White Category are Team Ofikwu, Team Ndoma-Egba, Team Goshen, Team CBN Fututos, Team Yetade and Team Tech-Vibe.
The Blue Group consists of Team Civil Defence, Team Kolatari, Team Muller, Team Opti Web, Team VGC Lions and Team Qualifier.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, applauded NCC for embracing sports initiative.
Dalung called on other government agencies to emulate the NCC by integrating sports in their activities.
NAN reports an organising committee was also inaugurated which is expected to fix a date for the tournament, among other assignments.