From EMMA OBI, Calabar
Cross River States Sports Commission has concluded arrangements for a tennis championship in honour of Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke.
Etubom Duke is said to have represented both the Cross River State and the Federal Government in tennis championships in Ghana, Togo and other countries between 1962 and 1969.
The championship scheduled for March 21th to 24th, 2017 at the U.J. Esuene Sports Stadium, Calabar is for primary and secondary schools in the Calabar Municipal and Calabar South Local Governments only.
Meanwhile, about 103 schools have so far indicated interest to participate in the competition.
Cross River State Sports Commission chairman, Rt Hon Orok Duke made this disclosure Wednesday in Calabar during a media briefing in honour of Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke.
“This tournament is not only important but also dear to us in the commission. We do not want to continue with this memorial thing of honouring people only when they are late but to recognize legends that have brought laurels to the state while they are still alife”.
Orok Duke said while this present tennis tournament is limited to primary and secondary schools in the Calabar Metropolis, “by next year, the competition will be open to primary and secondary schools across the state”.
It would be recalled that within the last three weeks, the state sports commission has organized taekwondo and table tennis for primary and secondary schools in the Calabar Metropolis.
Orok Duke disclosed that the commission has lined up activities such as the Ben Ayade foot-ball competition for the under 16 and athletics championship across the state.
“We are going to have events up to June this year. Preceding every tournament, we try to introduce new kits for the children so as to engender their interest”, the commission chairman said.
During a question and answer session with journalists, the honoree, Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke said “the problem with tennis is that it is very expensive to run. It is because of the high cost that makes lawn tennis less popular”.
The octogenarian thanked the state sports commission for the honour done to him.
“I am elated that this honour is done to me when I am still alive. This shows that some people still have a sense of history. What the commission has done is an encouragement”, and called on corporate bodies, individuals and organizations to join hands with the government in reviving lawn tennis game.
Similarly, the Senior Special Adviser, Public Affairs to the Cross River State Government, Tony Undiandeye thanked the state sports commission for honouring the 88 year old man now that he is still alive.
Earlier, the state sports commission chairman, Orok Duke said “these activities starting with only two local governments for now are experimental programmes aimed at re positioning sports in Cross River State.