For the first time in recent times, over 300 players across the country are jostling for honours at the maiden Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Championships holding at the Indoor Hall of the National Stadium in Lagos.
With players taking part in five categories – senior, junior, cadet, para and veteran, the competitors will be aiming to have a share of the N2.8m prize money at stake during the five-day championship.
Cross River Coach, Richard Edem could not hide his satisfaction for the turn-out, saying, “I must sincerely commend NTTF for putting this kind of competition together because it has been long we had such assemblage of players all across the country. Even some players who have retired because of inactivity are competing in this competition. I am impressed personally and I think the federation has done well for the sport,” Edem said.
For the Referee of the competition, Olufemi George, the large turn-out would also keep the umpires busy as this is the biggest tournament in the last two years. “Players and teams cut across the country and this is indeed a good development for the sport and I hope we can get more Aruna Quadris and Segun Toriolas from this competition because there are talents in this country,” George said.
Among the old players rubbing shoulders with the young ones in the competition is Taofeek Maya, a former African champion in the 1990s.
Maya, who recently won a tournament in Gabon said he is excited with the quality of play coupled with the huge turnout of teams and players.
“I can tell you that there is no age barrier in table tennis and that is why Segun Toriola can still be competing with the continent and world best in major competitions. For me, table tennis is my life and I am enjoying every moment. I hope to make a statement with my performance in this competition. I must also commend the NTTF under the leadership of Wahid Oshodi for restoring the glory of the sport. Now table tennis is now getting popular as it used to be in the 1990s. I am happy that I am part of this resurgence,” Maya said.