The second edition of the annual Valuejet Para Table Tennis Open is scheduled to begin on Saturday, December 19 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Stadium in Lagos.
Hundreds of players across the country are already in the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos for the three-day championship organised by Sunday Odebode Foundation in collaboration with the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).
With some of the Paralympians expected to represent Nigeria at Tokyo Paralympic Games already in camp, players outside Lagos have started arriving for the end-of-year championship being the only tournament for para table tennis this year following the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Coordinator of the tournament, Sunday Odebode, this year’s would be staged nationally with players aiming to be part of the national team eager to be part of the competition.
“We are grateful to our sponsor – Valuejet Airline who have decided to keep faith with the staging of the competition and we are indeed appreciative of their commitment to the tournament.
“Due to Covid-19, we will be staging this year nationally with the hope that new players would emerge this year. There are interest from other African countries to be part of this year’s event but the closure of border coupled with other factors would not allow them to make it to Nigeria.
“But we will ensure that we follow the laid-down Covid-19 protocol during the tournament while the social distance would also be maintained,” he said.
Odebode however, said that the tournament is expected to help the players to shape up for the 2021 National Sports Festival holding in Benin City, the Edo State capital while Tokyo-bound Paralympians would also be using the tournament as a tune-up to the biggest sporting event in Japan.
He added that 44 events would be competed for by the players while cash prizes would be doled out to the outstanding athletes.
Among the Tokyo-bound Paralympians expected to compete include Isau Ogunkunle and Commonwealth Games silver medalists Faith Obazuaye.
Sydney 2000 Paralympics gold medalists – Tajudeen Agunbiade and Olufemi Alabi will also be part of the tournament.