For Mostura Durosilorun, who started playing squash at eight in Lagos, representing Kwara State at the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Delta State next month will be a dream come true for her following her meteoric rise in the sport in 2022.
The festival holds from November 28 to December 10, but first, she must succeed in the state qualifiers in two weeks’ time.
Durosilorun, who is currently Nigeria’s top-ranked U-16 player, is also the current champion of the Lagos FTouch squash tourney.
At the FTouch U-13 and U-16 boys and girls in Lagos last September, the 14-year-old came from a set down to beat Khadijat Abdulraheem 3-1 (7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7) in the semi-finals, while in the final, she thrashed Awawu Balogun – Nigeria’s U-16 fifth-ranked player in three straight sets (11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
She is billed to feature again at the inaugural edition of the Chief Theodore Idowu Adebiyi National U-16 and U-19 Squash Championship billed at the Ibadan Recreation Centre from October 26 to 29.
Durosilorun is optimistic about achieving her dreams, irrespective of the challenges and limitations she has encountered.
“It was tough at the start because I had to combine education and squash together, but with my father’s tutelage, I pulled through,” she told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“School workload and training have been draining, but squash has helped me stay focused because the sport is all about precision and athleticism.”
Durosilorun admitted to PUNCH Sports Extra that she was aiming higher than the level she is now.
Still, she is grateful for the experience she had at tournaments she has featured in before she became a teenager.
“These tournaments have given me more confidence as I aim to achieve my short-term goals for this year,” she said.
“I hope to do well in the next tournament in Ibadan and qualify to represent my state (Kwara) at the National Sports Festival and Nigeria at major world competitions.
“I’m confident I can excel there.
“One of the things I tell myself is just to take it all in and enjoy the sport.”
Born into a squash family, Durosilorun’s father, Yusuf, played squash in the 1980s for Nigeria and spurred his children into taking after him.
He was also a one-time number-one-ranked male player in Nigeria.
Yusuf is the current Chairman, Technical Committee of the National Squash Federation.
“It was an easy pick for me to take to squash because my father played squash to the highest level and he encourages me to follow suit,” Durosilorun added.
“I did not really like football or basketball, but the squash was easy to go with because of my father.
“I hope to surpass my father’s feat of becoming one of Nigeria’s most successful squash players of all time.
In a chat with PUNCH Sports Extra, Yusuf said his motive for encouraging his children into sports was just to keep them occupied always when they were not reading.
“That was the only way I could keep them busy and stay focused on their objectives,” he said.
“Right now, my daughters and my son are into squash, but Mostura is very active as well as Aishat and Khadijat. My son Abdulraheem also started out but his education lately has not given him enough room to combine squash and schooling together.
“He is currently in the university and needs time to settle in well with his studies.
“As a former player myself, I know the value of training early for a tournament. We train mostly on weekends, but at the moment, we train after school.”
When asked how his children combine education and squash, Yusuf said he tried to ensure a balance between both.
“Take for instance last year’s edition of the squash national championships, my son did not participate because he had so much going on in school, so, he didn’t play that tournament.
“I believe we should not for any reason neglect their education. As a former player myself, I understand this because no matter how good you are as a player, you would retire. Age will stop you even if you don’t want to stop. Right now, I work.
“If I didn’t go to school, what happens? So, I’m an example to my children. They know playing squash is important, but education is even more important,’’ he said.
Yusuf says more programmes should be introduced to resuscitate the game at the grassroots.
“Part of what we can do to promote squash is what we are doing now by trying to promote it at our level,” he added.
“We are adding more tournaments to what we have in a year and we try as much as possible to make sure that every quarter during the holiday, we organise junior tournaments. We cannot do it alone, we need support from the media to promote the game.”