ITTF AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The absence of Nigeria’s female team may have given Egypt the chance to dominate the ongoing ITTF African Senior Championship holding in Agadir, Morocco.
The failure of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to fund the trip prevented Team Nigeria’s female squad from making it to the competition. Only Germany-based Olufunke Oshonaike is flying the country’s flag in the female category of the championship. She paid her way to Morocco.
This development has seemingly ruled out Nigeria’s female team from the 2017 and 2018 ITTF World Championships.
Just like it happened during the 2016 World Championship in Malaysia when the same situation panned out, it was only the male team that made it to the competition with their personal funds which was later refunded by the Sports Ministry.
According to ITTF Competition Manager, Algeria’s Mounir Bessah, the absence of a top team like Nigeria has indeed taken shine off the competition giving Egypt the chance to dominate the event.
“It is not too good that Nigeria female team is not here because we had expected that their presence would have added some glamour to the competition and also attract more people to the venue. But with their absence it is clear that Egypt will dominate and this is not too good for such tournament. I most times wondered why Nigeria has continually failed to attend such competitions because some countries that are not endowed than Nigeria are all here in Morocco.
“For me, I think the glamour of seeing the battle between Nigeria and Egypt is now off the card while we look forward to the men’s event which hopes to be exciting with Olympic Games quarterfinalist, Aruna Quadri leading the Nigerian team against the star-studded Egyptian side,” he said.
Oshonaike on the other hand is not happy that her teammates could not make it to the championship. She lamented that the attitude of those in charge of sports is killing the morale of athletes from other sports.
“They were able to make money available for the Super Eagles who are not even ranked number one in Africa to play World Cup qualifiers while we could not attend what serves as 2017 and 2018 World Championship qualifiers. This is very discouraging for me particularly looking at what table tennis did at Rio Olympic Games. Aruna Quadri has been sponsoring himself to major competitions in readiness for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games without any support and this for me is very discouraging for the athlete.
“I think I have lost hope in Nigerian sports particularly those in charge of sports who have continued to play lip service to development of other sports apart from football, ” Oshonaike rued.
“How can players continue to use their money to represent their country? This is not too good at all. That I was able to sponsor myself to the championship does not mean I have the money to throw away.
“For me, I am only doing it to encourage the young ones and the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Oshodi who has tried his best in the last three years,” she noted with heaviness of heart.
“I no longer have faith in Nigerian sports again because those in-charge do not understand what they are supposed to do. It is painful that it is the athletes that are made to suffer this lack of foresight,” she concluded.