No fewer than 120 junior players converged on Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Saturday, for the finals of the fourth edition of Ex-Pro Diaspora Squash U-11,U-13 and U- 16 boys and girls championships.
The Ex-Pro Diaspora is a group retired players who organise tournaments as a way of giving back to squash and to develop the sport at the grassroots.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that it was the first time the U-11 category featured in the tournament since its Inception in 2019.
Khadija Durosinlorun, in the U-11 girls category in a best of five game defeated Shetemi Adekunle 11/6, 21/19 and 11/6, 3-0, with the audience treated to an energetic match as the players picked the ball from various angles.
The two players represented Kwara in the tournament; call it the clash of the Afonjas and you won’t be wrong.
“We’ve met a couple of times and she won some and so did I, but this time around I was determined to win and I’m glad I did.
“My focus now is to compete at the U-16 category at the Obasanjo Championships coming up in Abeokuta and win like my big sister Mistura,” she said.
In the U-11 boys category, it was a close call between Lanre Yusuf of Lagos State and David Awe of Akwa-Ibom. Yusuf won 15/11, 11/9 and 11/8, an aggregate of 3-0.
Gift Ulisis of Akwa-Ibom defeated Loveth Balogun of Kwara by 11/4, 5/11,2/11,11/9 and 14/12, 3-2, in the U13 category, it was a tough match that made the fans scream with excitement as the tension built up in anticipation of the winner of the contest.
Balogun, who couldn’t hold her tears told NAN that she could have worked harder in order to maintain her superiority over her opponent.
“I have defeated her in some tournaments, it’s painful I lost. I don’t know why I can’t stop crying, losing hurts and I don’t want to feel this way again.
“I’d focus on training hard to ensure that I don’t feel this way ever again,” she said.
The audience was yet to recover from the thrilling performance of the girls when Ayomide Omotayo of Ogun defeated Kennedy Ola of Akwa-Ibom, 13/11,3/11,4/11,13/11 and 11/7, an aggregate of 3-2.
Omotayo who has a small stature compared to his opponent was a delight to the spectators as he wowed them with his skills.
“The crowed cheered for him more, and for my age, I didn’t know how to handle that. It was distracting; I hope to learn from this and ensure that I don’t get distracted by what’s happening in the gallery,” he said.
In the U-16 girls category Khadija Abdulraheem of Kwara defeated Awawu Balogun of Ogun 11/5,11/4,11/8 in all 3-0.
Kwara maintained dominance again as Shuaib Giwa of Kwara defeated Matthew Yusuf of Lagos State, 11/7,13/11 and 12/10 an aggregate of 3-0.
NAN reports that the tournament served-off from Aug. 12 and ended Aug. 19.
Yusuf Durosinlorun, the Technical Director of the tournament said he was impressed by the quality of play on display by the players. He said, indeed, the development of squash at the grassroots was certain.
“It is safe to say the future squash is secured in the country because the quality of play seen here is commendable; the energy of these children is unmatched.
“I want to appreciate all ex-players in the diaspora that have thought it right to give back to squash. The children will be better for it,” he said.
Friday Odey, the president of Ex-Pro Diaspora told NAN that the tournament had come to stay and that it would only get better for grassroots development.
“I don’t want to brag but next year’s tournament will be bigger and better, seeing these youngsters play has given us the strength we need to keep pushing.
“I started playing like this and squash gave me a solid foundation, the focus is to ensure that these children learn to combine squash with their education. When squash stops their certificate can continue,” he said.