Unknown to many, Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde is not only a sports enthusiast; he is also a sportsman to the core given his antecedents, reports OLAWALE OLANIYAN.
His involvement in golf, polo and tennis as an active participant remains a point of reference, and this even confirms him to be a youth with a passion for sports.
He may as well be a lover of one of the foreign clubs, but he is also a faithful of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC).
His concern for the Oluyole Warriors came to the fore shortly after his assumption of office as he showed displeasure with the inability of 3SC to gain promotion to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) at the end of last season.
The Oluyole Warriors have been struggling in the Nigerian National League (NNL) for three seasons now, and this, Engineer Makinde wants to end this new season. He has already put in place a structure to take care of 3SC as well as Crown FC which also belongs to the Oyo State government.
For him to have embraced golf shows he is not just a lover of sports; but he loves to be actively involved in it.
Unlike many of his colleagues, he has proved that when players complain of lack of motivation, he knows the effect of poor welfare on performance as an active participant too, thus remains a man any player would want to have as his governor.
Golf is regarded as as one of the elitist sports in the world as it always attracts governors, senators, lawmakers and captains of industries to boost networking aside from improving physical and mental health.
Engineer Makinde took his interest in sports beyond mere supporting its development by becoming a member of Ibadan Golf Club as well as Tiger Golf Club.
His love for tennis also made him to join the Ibadan Recreation Club, where he trains with professional tennis players.
Perhaps, Governor Makinde is in a position today to describe the mental toughness Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal would go through before they can win a tournament, thanks to his passion for golf and tennis.
GSM knows that golf is a game of discipline and transparency and this he prepares to exhibit at all times.
He has been a lover of golf having invested so much in the game even before he became a governor.
Makinde sponsored the fifth edition of Seyi Makinde Women’s Support Golf tournament in July this year in a bid to promote the game and encourage younger ones to play the game.
Speaking on the final of the tournament, Makinde stated categorically that sponsoring the golf competition had nothing to do with politics but it rather to encourage the youth to embrace golf.
He said that active participation in sporting activities was beyond recreation.
“Golf is a game of life and we know we can utilise it for economic gains, just imagine if we produce a world-class golfer in this environment, you can imagine how our economy will be boosted and that is why I believe that sports shouldn’t be for recreational purposes alone, but to lift the economy.
“This is the game that is very good, health wise you will be good and people should change their notion that the game is for the elite. I’m urging people who have not embraced golf to try it, because as a golfer, you are well connected and you would always look healthier.
“Last year, I made a promise to turn the tournament into Pro-Am and that promise has been fulfilled as Pro-Am will continue next year,” he added.
According to Ola Ibironke, popularly known as Dudu Heritage, second vice captain of Ibadan Golf Club, Makinde is “a gentleman to the core, he’s a gentleman, a good leader and trustworthy person.”
He said Makinde is a man one can believe his words because he never forgets his promises. As a good man, he shares his knowledge selflessly without looking back and that is what makes a good leader.
“Governor Makinde has been a golfer even before becoming the governor of the state. There was this project that a lady, Mrs Ronke Adepetu brought. It is tagged Golf Women’s Support and is being sponsored by Engineer Seyi Makinde, even before he became the governor and I think that really motivated him to start playing golf.
“Since I know him, he has been a good golfer, he creates time to make sure he played at least nine holes if not 18 holes. I also know him as a marathoner, while he plays tennis as well, but golf remains his favourite of all sports.
“Golf is not strenuous like other sports, golf is a sport that you achieve a lot within two to four hours because in those hours, you can cover as much as 10 kilometers, gently exercising from the brain to all the joints of your body.
“Within the short time that Engineer Makinde became a member of the Ibadan Golf Club, he has done a lot for the game. Aside from sponsoring the Women’s Support Golf tournament which is an annual event and has run for five editions now and the last edition he did was an Open tournament, where professional golfers came from all over the country to participate in. It cost a lot of money, He did not sponsor this pro tournament as governor but as Engineer Seyi Makinde.
“Governor Makinde has donated a lot of golf equipment that we used in maintaining our course. Some of them are from green cutter, fair way cutter and a lot more. He has spent a lot of money on the development of Ibadan Golf Club because all golfers believe that it is where you are going to retire. You can not keep on playing tennis for the rest of your life, but by the time you get to certain age, you step down, but golf, you can play it at any age, even when you close and can still move round.
“In terms of development support, Governor Makinde has contributed a lot in cash and kind to the development of Ibadan Golf Club, that I know, ever before becoming a governor.
“I know him to be a man of very deep thought and he’s open to ideas and that is why there is a cabinet in place. if any idea is brought to his attention as regards golf promotion, I’m very sure, he will be more than happy to be part of it to sponsor it.
“There are certain things we are trying to put together now that will reposition Oyo State when it comes to golf. There is no way we want to do it behind Governor Makinde. Now, he’s a father of the state, a consummate golf lover.
“For every good leader, you find a good golfer in him because it is an avenue to interact with other people. If you want to get away from the burden of your office, you even see a lot of your cabinet members playing golf with you because on the golf course, you can discuss a lot of things unofficially that would later help to form official policies for the benefit of the state.
“In fact, Governor Makinde is an unbiased golfer, with a very sound mind and ideas when it comes to the development of anything. His devotion to playing golf for recreation is a source of encouragement to others too, it is a message that one must be engaged in sports, no matter the tight schedule to help one to live a healthy life,” he noted.
Adepetu described Engineer Makinde as a man of his word having promised during his electioneering to include 30 per cent women in his cabinet, saying that promise has been fulfilled.
“The Seyi Makinde Women’s Support Golf tournament was staged to help women and make people to know that he’s always ready to assist.
“He has been so committed to the tournament in the last five years. In fact, you don’t even need to remind him of the tournament at the appropriate time.
“He’s a lover of sports because I could recall that the last tournament really boosted the economy of the state owing to the number of participants we had.
“The tournament also brought Ibadan Golf Club on the golf map even beyond the continent given the quality of professional golfers which it attracted,” Adepetu noted.