The battle among players for the N4.5m prize money for the 2021 Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Championships will begin on Tuesday, May 18 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
At the press briefing to herald the commencement of the tournament, the Tournament Director, Adesoji Tayo said the aim of the tournament was to continue the momentum which started from the 20th National Sports Festival to the concluded 14th Aso Cup held in Abuja.
He said that over three players will compete in the five-day championships which will end on Saturday, May 22.
“We are aware of the quality of play in Edo and Abuja and for us, we want to continue to raise the bar by staging the national tournament so that our players can showcase their talents for the national handlers to identify them. I promise you it is going to be explosive as players will compete in 12 events in cadet, U-21, senior, and veterans. The icing on the cake is the total purse for the champion which for us will motivate the players to want to go for the top prize. Also, we are going to ensure that COVID-19 protocol is adhered to throughout the tournament,” he said.
Tayo, who is the former Technical Director of NTTF however, charged the players to conduct themselves with the best players emerging as champions as the federation is poised to unearth more Quadri Arunas in near future.
According to the Chairman, NTTF Caretaker Committee, Ishaku Tikon, the tournament is one of the events being organised by the federation to engage the players with the aim to unearth talents for the country.
“For the next five days from tomorrow May 18 to Saturday May 22, we are going to be witnessing explosive contests among the players and we believe we can identify more Quadri Aruna, Olufunke Oshonaike, Segun Toriola among others in the tournament. This competition is another avenue for our national handlers to identify some talents that will form the bulk of our national teams at junior and senior levels and we hope we can use it again to gauge the players in terms of their ranking,” he said.
The Director-General, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Gafar Bolowotan also reaffirmed the state commitment to sports development with huge support from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. “We are happy to partner with the NTTF in staging this commitment and this is also in line with our ideal of sports development which is one of the objectives of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in terms of youth development. We are also happy to host the tournament and we hope our visitors from other states will enjoy the warm hospitality of Lagos throughout their stay,” Bolowotan said.
The Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Olabanji Oladapo lauded NTTF and Lagos for deeming it fit to stage the tournament to keep the players busy, while urging the players to give their best in order to be called up to the national camp.