Some foreign participants at the just concluded Lagos International Squash Classics have commended Nigeria for its atmosphere of hospitality and richness in delicious food.
In separate interviews on Sunday they said they would love to come back and visit the country again.
Lucky Mlilo, the Vice President of the Squash Federation of Africa (SFN), said he was in Nigeria the second time for a squash competition.
Mlilo said he was impressed with the development of the game.
He noted that he enjoyed his stay the first time when he came in 2013, adding that there had been a lot of improvement in the service sector in terms of hospitality in the country.
“The hospitality of Nigerians is quite brilliant; Nigerians are respectful people and I love the way we have been entertained.
“I enjoy Nigeria because the ambience is very relaxing, it is almost like Zimbabwe where I hail from and the people are very accommodating.
“The cuisine is deliciously tasty, especially pounded yam, because of its distinctive taste.
“I ate it with a soup that was yellowish looking and garnished with vegetables and meat.
Dimitri Steinmann, another squash player from Switzerland, said it was his first time in Africa and had really enjoyed the warm weather, compared to Europe’s usually cold climate.
Steinmann also said he enjoyed the hospitality of the people in Nigeria.
“They are so friendly and are always there to help me when I seem confused about what to do.
“I really like the people, everybody is so friendly, even from the airport.
“When I arrived and seemed a bit confused about what to do, I was getting assistance from people around me.
“The people of this country have good character and I will like to come back when the opportunity presents itself,’’ he said.
Steinmann said he did not eat any local food during the tournament because of an experience that he had during one of his outings in Indonesia.
“I participated at a competition some years ago in Indonesia where I settled for their local cuisine.
“I could not play well in the match because the food, somehow, disrupted my bowels.
“However, I have been told about Nigeria’s diversity in tasty soups accompanied with edible moulds to swallow which I will try out soon,’’ he said.
Steinmann expressed appreciation to the many fans that came out to watch the tournament.
He said it was very encouraging to know that Nigerians actually liked squash.
Corroborating Steinmann’s enthusiasm for the large turn-out of fans, Sean Conroy, a player from Ireland, said he was impressed with the turnout of people from the first day to watch the match till the last day.
Conroy said that it was great for the organisers to have provided a glass court as a basic infrastructure for the game.
He commended the local players, whom he played with in the competition, saying that they were talented and had a lot of endurance.
Another player, Jean-Pierre Brits from South Africa, said he was a first timer in Nigeria and that he felt at home since Nigeria is also an African country.
“Hospitality has been really good because I have been treated very well in all areas in terms of accommodation and transportation.
“Everyone seems to want to treat us very well.
“A lady, who engage in sports massaging, has been massaging me for the days the tournament lasted and she has been really great.
“She was really knowledgeable; we talked a lot about sports and she sounded pretty much convincing about what she was talking about,’’ Conroy said.
Tokunbo Hollist, a Nigerian squash fan, who resides in the U.K, said he was delighted to see the game gradually becoming popular among players in the country.
Hollist said he came home, whenever he was less busy in other to enjoy the serene lifestyle at home.
“There is nowhere like home. So, I always feel excited when I come back home because Nigerians are happy people and I like to have conversations with cheerful people.
“I am not a novice when it comes to our various cuisines but I prefer Calabar cuisines to others because of its richness in vegetables and also because it is less spicy,’’ he said.