• Ambode pledges winning bonus for home players
The sixth edition of this year’s International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open will serve off today at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun in Stadium, Lagos with 169 competitors from 27 countries, made up of 101 men and 68 women, fighting for the $46,000 prize money. It is the second highest paying event among the nine ITTF Challenge Series.
Speaking on the competition yesterday, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation’s (NTTF) President, Ishaku Tikon said the organisers have programmed the event to be the best of its kind in recent years.
“For this year’s challenge, we will see the best of table tennis in the country. There will be progressive improvement in terms of the quality of players for this year’s challenge, which has been made possible through the hard work of the Local Organising Committee (LOC). However, the ITTF must be appreciated because they have always been putting things right for us,” he said.
Also speaking on the championship, Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission and the event’s Director, Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh, said, “we are assuring everyone of an excellent and wonderful and perhaps the best of Nigeria Open ever. This is the first time we are having the highest number of players from more countries with over 160 players.”
He added that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has approved bonuses for Nigerians players taking part at the championship as they progress in the tournament.“His Excellency has instituted a bonus for Nigerian players that do well in this competition at all categories; the men’s singles, women’s singles because we know that we may not yet win it.
“The higher you go as a Nigerian player, there is a bonus that has been put in place by Governor Akinwumi Ambode. We will make payments to encourage those players the further they go because he believes that this will help our players to at least know that they need to continue to improve and get better.”
Former NTTF President and Chairman of the ITTF Nomination Committee, Enitan Oshodi, said the event has grown and become bigger with 40 players within the top 250 ranking participating in this year’s championship.
“Table tennis standard keeps going higher, especially for us in Nigeria. All we want to see is improved performances. It is better for our players and hopefully they move on to greater heights. The championship is also a kind of selection to make up the national team for the Africa’s championships in Mauritius next month,” he stated.