With Sponsors, Opportunity Abound For Squash Players, Says Olatunji, Nigeria No. 1

Queen of the court, Yemisi Olatunji believes squash players will perform greatly if well encouraged

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Nigeria squash queen, Yemisi Olatunji has called on sponsors (individual, corporate and government) to support the noble game of squash.

Olatunji Sr. express in an exclusive interview with Ridwan Adeola Yusuf of Top Media Nigeria that she sees herself and her compatriots doing very good “if we see sponsors”.

Olatunji Sr. scooped the 2018 Safeguard Zimbabwe Open Squash Championship crown at Suburbs Squash Club in Bulawayo last week.

The athlete, who has enjoying a long reign at the top of Nigeria squash ranking defeated her younger sister, Busayo Olatunji 3-1 in the final. In the process, the Ekiti-born player successfully defended a title she won last year. The siblings are the only two female Nigerians on the the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour ranking. The new squash season begins officially on September 4, 2018, and ahead of the 2018-2019 term, Olatunji Sr. is calm.

“Being a professional (squash) player in Nigeria is a challenge. No sponsors from companies, federal government or state government. You have to do it all alone. We only have support of (few) philanthropists who love the game and love to see us performing well. I’m still hopeful that more persons would come to our succor. Not only me, but all professional squash players in Nigeria. Because I know we have a lot of opportunities outside there if we see sponsors. What we need is a kind of encouragement from companies, individuals, (squash) stakeholders, the federal (government), and the state (government). With this, I believe we will perform greatly. In fact, we will exceed our own expectations.”

Furthermore, Olatunji Sr., 24 continues:

“So, as regards the PSA season that commences in the next few weeks, I hope I would be able to start with them. Right now, it depends on sponsorship.”

Olatunji feels great!

The premier squash competition in Zimbabwe which Olatunji won featured over 100 players from more than six African countries. The Nigerian contingent to the tournament include Onaopemipo Adegoke, Abdulrahaman Olanrewaju Yusuff and Idowu Enimakure. Victor, Olatunji Sr. identifies hardwork as the dern to her successful defence of the title in the Southern African nation.

Olatunji Sr. (middle) receiving her trophy

“I feel very happy retaining the Zimbabwe Open. It is down to my hardwork. So, it feels great – for me.”

Olatunji happy for sister’s development

Olatunji Jr. was finalist at the Under-19 girls’ cadre of the Lagos International Squash Classics held in March. She has joined the PSA and is currently ranked #266 in the world. She impressively finished runners-up 2,383 miles away from home. Thus, her elder sister, Yemisi is glad witnessing her rise.

The Olatunjis all smiles after their achievement in Zimbabwe

“I’m so glad seeing her perform excellently. I believe she has the ability to perform more than she is currently doing. Because before now, I’ve seen that potential in her. I’m pleased that I dedicated everything and took my time to support her to the level she is today. And I’m glad that she is doing excellently. Meanwhile, I hope to see her in more finals; to play (against) her in a lot of finals. I’m glad she’s up there.”

‘What Nigerian squash players need is consistency’

Despite being the notable Nigerian emblazoning the country’s name in the global arena in the female category of the sport, Olatunji doesn’t feel any special. As a matter of fact, she desire for more Nigerian names on the PSA World ranking(s).

L-R: Abdulrahaman Olanrewaju Yusuff, Busayo Olatunji, Yemisi Olatunji, Idowu Enimakure and Onaopemipo Adegoke

“I’ve seen a lot of potentials in even the upcoming ones. And I know that if we have a lot of Nigerians in the PSA, it is going to help us. We would see ourselves ranked among prominent players.

“Most people in top 10; top 20, I know they’ve done a fantastic job. What actually helped them is consistency. If we are also consistent, it is not impossible to see Nigerians in top 5; in top 10; in top 20 (in the world).

“The truth is that I am not overwhelmed (being one of the two female Nigerian players ranked globally). I actually want to see more Nigerians registering for PSA; registering for women’s elite squash body. This will make the game popular in Nigeria – like other sports, say football,” Olatunji Sr. concludes.

 

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