Facts have emerged on the reason talented Nigerian tennis youngster, Marylove Edwards, left the prestigious IMG Academy in Brandenton, Florida.
The youngster had been billed to stay at the Nick Bolleteri-owned Academy for a minimum of four years following the sponsorship deal by Temple Management Company, but she could not complete the term of the deal.
In an interview with Nigeria Tennis Live, renown sports marketing expert, Koye Sowemimo, the Director of Sports at TMC at the time, revealed that funding became an issue at some point.
Sowemimo, who now runs K.S Management , noted that the plan was to expose the youngster to world class tennis facilities and coaches for her to become the very best.
But, according to him, she should not stay for longer because of funding to continue her stay in the United States.
“Tennis is a very expensive sport. We are not talking about just playing competitions locally.
“Marylove can play many competitions in Nigeria, those competitions are not necessarily playing against the rest of the world.
“We wanted her to excel in sports, unfortunately, we couldn’t keep her there for longer because finances became a challenge.
“Each young talent can only go so far, but if there isn’t any finances behind them, then what you’ll find is that they’ll fall by the roadside,” the tennis enthusiast noted.
While giving a vivid image of what the prestigious Academy looked like, Mr. Sowemimo said: “The IMG Academy, having been there, I describe it as the Disneyworld of sports for any young sporting talent because they’ve everything you want there.
“I mean, if I could go back in time and my parents could ask me where would I want to go, and knowing in hindsight that IMG had all these facilities, I’d have said, you know what? Put me in IMG, I’m going to do my education and I’m also going to excel in sports.”
In spite of this setback, however, Mr. Sowemimo believes that the talented Nigerian athlete can still become the number one player in the world.
“In my heart of hearts, I believe she can,”he noted, while adding that “She has the right mentality of someone that wants to be the best at what they do, and I mean, that’s a very important characteristic to have at a young age.”
Speaking further, he explained that: “For her to get to number one, it’s as simple as this; you need to be financed, she needs to be in the right environment, with the best coaches, the best facilities.
“There’s no cheat in the world, to become the best tennis player in the world, it takes a lot of hard work.
“One of the things I admire in her is her dedication to the courts. She can become the number one. It’s down to her mental state and the structure that is created around her.”