Sponsor of the Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championships, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas; Lagos State Sports Commissioner, Wahid Enitan-Oshodi, and Chairman, Lagos Table Tennis Association, Mr Femi Sokoye, at the Press Conference on the 44th Asoju Oba Championships in Lagos… Tuesday PHOTO: James Agori
By Edhowo Enakeno
Sponsor of the annual Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championships, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, has called for the hiring of top rated coaches from either Sweden or China as a way of avoiding a repeat of the embarrassing defeats Nigeria experienced in the table tennis events of the London Olympic Games.
“We have to agree that the level of achievement of our players on the international scene has dropped drastically despite the determined efforts and occasional sparkling performance of our topmost player, Segun Toriola,” observed Chief Okoya-Thomas.
Speaking at the press conference to herald this year’s edition of the competition, the former CFAO chief executive insisted that only recourse to the Swedes or Chinese was capable of bailing out Nigeria from the current down-turn in the fortune of table tennis here.
“In order to revive our dwindling fortunes in sports, particularly table tennis, we should go back to the grassroots. And to keep abreast of the standard of the game that has gone very high, we need to turn to either the Swedes or Chinese to help coach of players,” he noted.
He said this year’s Asoju Oba Championship will have a total of 17 titles up for grabs and the competition will be in three categories namely; junior, intermediate and senior. The veterans and sports journalists will also compete against each other at the five-day tournament.
Lagos State Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Wahid Enitan-Oshodi emphasised the need for developing home grown talents, while lauding the unwavering support of the sponsor to the tournament over the last four decades. He encouraged other corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals to emulate Okoya-Thomas.
The tournament is the longest unbroken sports sponsorship in the country and will be in its 44th edition this year.