From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A 23-year old, Adegoke Onaopemipo, last weekend in Abuja continued his dominance of Nigeria’s squash, when he defeated Gabriel Olufumilayo to win the inaugural edition of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Open Squash Challenge.
Onaopemipo emerged winner with 3-2 (11-0, 11-1, 6-11, 7-11, 8-11) in the championship held at the Squash Court, Package B of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to cart away the N200,000 prize money earmarked for the male participants.
The event, which featured 75 players including top Nigeria players across the country, saw Abdulaziz Rufiat record upset, coming from a set down to beat Busayo Olatunji 3-2 (11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 8-11) in the female final.
Speaking after emerging victorious, Onaopemipo, presently ranked 299th player in the world, announced that his target is to be in the top 50.
He described Olufunmilayo as his toughest opposition, emphasizing: “Olufumilayo has been my rival, always having tough matches, fight for fight everytime we face each other.
“What happened today also happened yesterday when I had to come from two sets down to win 3-2. I was fatigued and could not move my legs in the first two sets and I had to start running, did a lot of exercise before going inside the court. Then, in the third set I had to calm myself, concentrate on the game and it worked for me.
“I feel really great winning the competition and my target is to be in the top 50 players in the world. I am currently ranked 299 in the world and pushing harder to get to the top 50 before next year.
“The challenge is sponsorship and visa problems. We are not always granted visas in this country to attend championships and that is what is killing us. We normally paid for PSA ranking every six months and we can’t attend international tournaments because of visa issues. I just wish and pray that we have a free visa issue this time around,” Onaopemipo said.
Excited by the outcome of the championship, IGP Baba Alkali, represented by Force Sports Officer, DCP Patrick A. Ateyero, commended the participants for their good sportsmanship, saying the three day surpassed their expectations.
“The three days competition was fantastic and it was beyond our expectations. I’m delighted with the level of play and we had threallye best players in the country compete in the first ever IGP Open Squash Tournament. It was good and we were impressed.
He promised to make the next edition far much better, noting: “From the support we have received from the Squash Federation, I am very positive that the second edition will be better than this one in terms of organisation and prize money.”
Also speaking on the competition, chairman, Nigerian Police Squash Association (NPSA), CSP Yakubu Mailafiya, said the players will not forget the benefit derived from the competition in hurry as it helped them to earn PSA points.
“The biggest take away from the tournament is that, this is the first time a PSA sanctioned competition was taking place in the upper area of this country and I’m glad that the Nigeria Police Force was the first to sponsor the game. It is something that Nigerian squash players would never forget in a hurry.
“Sometimes, they paid money to go to other countries to play and earn points for themselves, but this one helped them earn PSA points within their domain. That was the essence of this game,” he noted.
The high point was the presentation of trophies, certificates of participation and prize money reward to the winners of the male and female categories.
Over 32 players out of the 75 participants went home with prizes with the male and female runners earning N150, 000 and N80, 000 respectively for their efforts.