Adegoke Onaopemipo continued his dominance of Nigeria’s squash at the weekend as he defeated Gabriel Olufumilayo 3-2 (11-0, 11-1, 6-11, 7-11, 8-11) to win the maiden edition of l Inspector General of Police (IGP) Open Squash Championship held at the Squash Building, Package B of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The event, which also saw Abdulaziz Rufiat came from a two sets down to beat Busayo Olatunji 3-2 (11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 8-11) in the female final, was exciting as it featured 75 players including top Nigerian stars from across the country.
After the match, Onaopemipo who has now earned N200,000 for his effort and ranked 299th player in the world said his target is to be in the top 50.
He described Olufunmilayo as his toughest rival in Nigeria. “He (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 couldn’t 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’m 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 Usman Alkali Baba, represented by the Force Sports Officer, DCP Patrick A. Ateyero, commended the participants for their good sportsmanship, saying the three day championship 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 the best players in the country compete in the first ever IGP Open Squash Tournament. It was really good and we were impressed.
He promised to make the next edition better. “From the support we have received from the Squash Federation, I’m 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.”
Aside from the winners of the male and female categories, 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.