The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) in collaboration with the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation under the Olympic Solidarity Coaching programme and International Table Tennis Federation is organising a coaching course for Table Tennis Coaches in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
The regional course which is being supervised by Abdulmalik Ibrahim of the Nigeria Olympic Committee drew participants from the six geographical zones of Nigeria and some African countries like Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tunisia.
According to the Secretary-General, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Mr Olabanji Oladapo, one of the objectives of this course is aimed at updating the skills of Table Tennis coaches on the modern technicality of the game.
“It is the hope of the Nigeria Olympic Committee that coaches that are participating in this programme will take advantage of it and exploit the expertise of the instructor to improve their technical abilities”, Oladapo concluded.
International Table Tennis Federation Instructor, Ahmed Aldawalatly from Egypt is in charge of the course where twenty coaches are currently taken part. The course which commenced on Monday, 13th May will end on Saturday, 18th May, 2019.
…ITTF names referee team…Players to compete in mixed doubles
As one of the Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus tournaments in 2019, the prize money for this year’s Nigeria Open has been jerked up to $60,000 (N21m). Also, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has named a three-man referees team for the Africa’s elite championship holding on August 7 to 11 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
It would be recalled that the success recorded at previous Nigeria Open prompted the world table tennis ruling body to list the tournament among its Challenge Plus with an improved prize money and global coverage.
From the $46,000 (N16.1m), players will now share $60,000 at the five-day championship as total prize money. Winners in the men and women singles will now get $7,000 (N2.45m) each for their efforts.
Aside the prize money, there is also an improved ranking point for every player that features in the tournament and this will help to attract top players across the globe.
This development has made Nigeria the first African country to stage the ITTF Challenge Plus while Morocco will host one of the ITTF Challenge late this year as well. From the six events, the event has been increased to seven to include the mixed doubles.
Algeria’s Abdallah Boudjahem will head the referee’s team while South Africa’s Rodrique Volkwyn is the Deputy Referee and Nigeria’s John Peters is assistant referee.
For the chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Wahid Oshodi, the management of the global sponsor – Seamaster and ITTF should be commended for considering Nigeria as one of the host of the Challenge Plus due to the excitement that the Nigeria Open continues to attract globally.
Prior to the Nigeria Open, Lagos will also be hosting national junior and team championships while the African Club Championships and ITTF African Cup will hold on July 31 to August 5 with the ITTF African Cup serving as the continent’s qualifiers for the 2019 ITTF World Cups in Chengdu, China.
Following the successful staging of one of the elite tournaments in the world – the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) backed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has awarded the hosting right to Nigeria for the 2019 ITTF African Cup and Club Championships in August 2019.
According to the President of African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy, it was Nigeria’s pedigree in staging one of the continent’s most colourful tournaments that prompted the ATTF Executive Council (EC) to give the West African nation the nod to stage the tournaments.
“Nigeria applied for the hosting rights such a prestigious event on time and the EC found it is a very good chance to bring the event to Lagos just prior to the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open in order to give multiple benefits for the African players to play more than one tournament especially at same venue. Also it aims to encourage more African players to feature in the Nigeria Open this year.
He expressed optimism that more players would feature in the tournaments as most of them would be using as tune-up to the 2019 African Games in Morocco, which serves as Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers.
For the President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Ishaku Tikon, Nigeria is known to have staged one of the most colourful table tennis tournaments in the world, adding that hosting the continental tournaments would not be an issue. “We are ready to host the tournaments as ITTF and ATTF have both agreed to do the necessary things to ensure we stage a befitting tournament. We have the experience and the human resources to put up a good show and we hope to again put Africa on the world map with hosting of the championships,” Tikon said.
On the ability of Nigeria to stage the tournament, the ATTF boss said: “Nigeria is one of the very experienced African Federations hosting Continental & World title events, and I see that success is increasing year by year for their ITTF World Title event, thus this year with additional African events, they will have more success.”
For this event, each national association is expected to register four players made up of two men and two female as the African Cup serves as qualifiers for the ITTF World Cups for men and women.
“Each Association will register two male and two female players including the title holders – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Dina Meshref of Egypt being the champions of previous edition in Agadir, Morocco in 2017,” El-Salhy added.
The African Club Championships serves off on July 31 to August 2 while the African Cup holds on August 3 to 5 with an average 15 countries and 70 players expected to compete in the tournaments in Lagos, Nigeria.
For being the best player from Africa to reach the last 32 of the men’s singles at the 2019 ITTF World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) for being a record setter for the continent at global level.
The continental body through its President, Khaled El-Salhy described the Nigerian as a good ambassador for always putting the continent on the world map with his scintillating performance.
El-Salhy, however lauded Egypt’s Dina Meshref for her second feat in the women’s singles as well as her partnership with compatriot – Yousra Helmy for making it to the second round of the women’s doubles.
“Some African players did quite well especially Aruna Quadri (NGR) who was the last male player on track by reaching the round of 32, also Dina Meshref (EGY) who also made it to the round of 64 in singles while her doubles’ pairing with Yousra Helmy reached the last 32 of the event. I think they all tried their best and lost in some very tough matches,” the ATTF boss said.
For African players to excel at big stage, El-Salhy said: “Medals in this kind of events are very difficult due to the big competition from China with five players as well as strong teams like Japan, Germany, Koreas, and others, but maybe they should look to medals in World Cup and World title events.
Players must also work hard to be able to advance in this kind of competition and this will surely help their World Ranking, and also for the national associations to prepare the players while African countries should also be looking forward in in hosting similar WTTC in the near future.”
The ATTF boss commended the organisers of the competition, the Hungarian Table Tennis Association for putting up a good show. “I am so happy and satisfied in Budapest for the competition, facilities within hotels and transportation provided during the tournament and most importantly the good weather we enjoyed during the tournament.”
On the inability of Morocco to secure the hosting right for the 2021 World Championships, he said: “There is hope for Africa because this time Morocco put up a perfect bidding and ATTF supported them, while USA won the bidding due to their planning to use the event in 2021 as the 50th Anniversary for the Ping Pong Diplomacy. I am sure Africa could be hosting the WTTC soon.”
African players need to raise their game, says Oshodi…Wants coaches to be acquainted with modern techniques
Chairman of ITTF Nomination Committee, Wahid Oshodi believes for African players to comfortably test might against their Asian and European counterparts, there is need for them to up their game by competing in several competitions across the globe.
Speaking against the backdrop of African players’ performance at the 2019 ITTF World Championships held in Budapest, Hungary, Oshodi said: “The performance of the African players has been quite fair. We were hoping for better results but they have had to contend with difficult draws and players recovering from injuries.
The performances need to improve so we can challenge the top Asian and European players. But apart from this, I must commend Aruna Quadri who is still recovering from a hamstring injury but worked hard in getting to the round of 32 before going out in a closely contested match against the overwhelming favourite and World No 1 Fan Zhen Dong. It was a great performance. The young Nigerian former Junior Champion Ajoke Ojomu also showed great promise in her first world championship. She showed all the qualities needed to play at this level. Now she must add more hard work to her undoubted talent. The African female champion Dina Meshref also played well.”
The former President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) said for African players to win medals in global tournaments, there must conscious efforts by coaches to acquaint themselves with modern techniques in the sports.
“We must get our players playing more regularly against the best players in the world. Our coaches need to learn the latest techniques. We need more exposure for them and for the players. We need to get our players on the World Tour Circuit. This means money and they need more sponsorship and funding.
We have all witnessed the vast improvements made by Aruna Quadri, Olajide Omotayo and Omar Assar since they started playing regularly on the tour. You play against the best in the world and learn from them. The support Aruna Quadri has received from Baba Ijebu Bet has helped him in no small way to ensure he attends tournaments and pay for the extra coaching that is needed at this level. Others need to emulate this,” Oshodi said.
Ghana recorded its first ever win at the ITTF World Championships as the duo of Derek Abrefa and Celia Baah-Danso defeated Mauritius’ duo of ARNACHELLUM Allan & RAMASAWMY Caroline 3-1 in the preliminary round of the mixed doubles event.
Playing on centre court at HungExpo in Budapest, the Ghanaian pairs who are combining for the first time in an international tournament toppled their Mauritian counterpart with 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11 to advance to the next stage of the competition.
An excited Derek Abrefa said he hopes to record more wins but admitted that it would be a Herculean task in Budapest.
“It was indeed a good feeling coming back to the biggest competition in the world. I was so excited when I learnt that we will be playing on table one and I just told my partner that we should go in there and give our best. We were familiar with our opponents but we knew it was a different platform and we have to make ourselves and country proud by winning the first match for Ghana in a World Championship in recent times. We are aware that we will be facing stronger opponents as we advance but we will continue to work harder and play harder,” said Abrefa.
For Celia Baah-Danso, it was an experience she would not want to forget in a hurry. “I am very much happy featuring in my first World Championship and specially playing on the centre court where the whole world will be watching me. I am also happy that we were able to win the first match and this is awesome and I can’t wait to play the next game. It was a different feeling for me playing on table one where all the cameras focused on you. I hope the experience I garner will be helpful to me in all the competitions I will be playing this year,” she said.
However, Celia Baah-Danso did not start well in the women’s singles as she fell 4-0 to her Indian counterpart.
For emerging champion at the 2018 National Sports Festival, Ajoke Ojomu has been rewarded for her feat with a place in the seven-man team named by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for the 2019 World Championship holding in Budapest, Hungary.
The 20-year-old Abuja-based star will be making her debut at the senior level in Budapest and she will join experienced stars – Olufunke Oshonaike and Spain-based Edem Offiong to compete in the women’s singles event of the tournament.
According to the Secretary General of NTTF, James Eakyns, the selection of Ajoke Ojomu was based on her performance at the 2018 National Sports Festival held in Abuja. The scribe said that she was unbeaten in all her matches to emerge as the new Nigeria national champion.
“We are excited that we are now having players that are coming through. Olajide Omotayo who made his debut at the 2018 ITTF African Championship in Mauritius and made it to the semifinal stage and this has given us hope that our players are capable of playing at the big stage. We are also hopeful that the inclusion of Ajoke Ojomu will afford her the necessary experience to rub shoulders with the best in the world. We hope she can also learn from experienced players in the team,” the NTTF scribe said.
23-year-old Olajide Omotayo will be making his second appearance at the global tournament after he worked his way to the knockout stage at the 2017 edition in Dusseldorf. The 2018 African Championship semifinalist is hoping for another good outing in Budapest.
Other members of the men’s team for Nigeria include African Champion – Aruna Quadri, Bode Abiodun and seven-time Olympian Segun Toriola.
The tournament would help the players to amass individual points for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games while it will help the team to get good seeding for the 2019 African Games in Morocco.