Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has promised to give cash bonuses to successful Nigerian players participating at the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open which begins today in Lagos.
169 players made up of 101 men and 68 women from 26 countries will compete in six events at the five-day competition which has become Africa’s elite tournament sanctioned by the world table tennis ruling body – International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). $46,000 prize is at stake for winners to share.
The Director General of the Lagos State Sport Commission (LSSC), Babatunde Bank-Anthony disclosed this yesterday at the press conference heralding the tournament.
“The Governor’s bonus for this year is that His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has instituted a bonus for Nigerian players that will do well in all categories both Men singles and Women Singles because we know that they may not get to win the titles”, Bank-Anthony said
Bank-Anthony also said, “We will make use of the bonus wisely to encourage Nigerian players to go further and we believe that this will help them to at least improve and perform better”.
From the inception of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open, no Nigerian player has won the title in the singles events but assurance from Olajide Omotayo and Esther Oribamise has shown that the host will not disappoint this year.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Olajide Omotayo believes with the present form of some of the players, they are ready to wrestle the titles from the foreigners.
“We are all ready for the tournament this year because we have the quality to match the foreigners and I am hopeful that we will give our best and hope for the best this. The likes of Aruna Quadri, Bode Abiodun and Segun Toriola have always inspired us that we can be the best in the game. We are fully ready to see Nigerian players on the podium this year,” he said.
Oribamise, a bronze medallist at the 3rd African Youth Games in Algiers is optimistic that things would look up for Nigerian players this year.
“We are all in good shape and I can tell you that all of us know what is at stake. Apart from the prize money we are also aiming to improve our ranking with this tournament,” she said.