Another set of junior stars have been unearthed from the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) U-16 national league with Lagos’Emmanuel Augustine and Kwara’s Sukurat Aiyelabegan emerged as champions of the one-week tournament.
The southpaw Augustine beat other top players to the overall title after garnering 84 points as well as the highest earning player with N25,000 as his total prize money for his efforts in the boys’ event.
Like Augustine, Aiyelabegan topped the girls’ event with 66 points and a prize money of N16,000 for all her efforts in the tournament.
Other players that made the top three in the boys’ event are Lagos’ duo of Jamiu Ayanwale and Qudus Surmer while in the girls’ cadre Aiyelegan was joined in the top three by Kwara’s Rofiat Jimoh and Lagos’ Zainab Surmer.
According to the President of NTTF, Wahid Oshodi, the tournament has once again showed that the country is endowed with enormous talents in the sport.
“I have been watching table tennis for over 30 years and even though I am not a coach I must say that what we saw over the last two weeks especially in the boys category is of the highest standard. I have not seen such a large number playing such fantastic table tennis at this age.
This for me is the most exceptional group of young boys I have seen. They can match any country in this age group. The girls’ standard was also quite good but we still need to encourage more girls to start playing at an earlier age. I am really pleased and I can’t wait for the Super League final in May to see the children again. It was also brilliant to see children from all over the country playing together and enjoying themselves and it was indeed a great success,” Oshodi said.
He however said that some of the players discovered would be exposed to international competitions to be able to rub shoulders with their foreign counterparts.
“It is what we have always known, we have to catch them young and harness this fantastic talent that we have in this country. We will continue to look for ways to give these young boys and girls chance to expose and develop their talent. Our coaches have a lot more work now in assessing how we develop these children. We also now know that we must work closely with the state coaches who are doing such fantastic work with the little equipment they have. I thank them for the commitment they show towards finding and developing these youngsters at the grassroots level,” the NTTF boss opined.
The grand finale known as Super League holds on May 14 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium while the names of the finalists will also be unveiled by the federation