– N.6m at stake as prize money
– Tournament serves as path to team selection
The Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) has set in motion plans to boost female table tennis by organising a women-only tournament which it says will improve the standard of female table tennis players and help make them more competitive on the global stage.
The maiden national women singles open championship which is scheduled for the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos between June 27-29 will offer a total prize money of N600,000 and will be open to players within and outside Nigeria who have a valid NTTF license and will also be used to select players for national assignments.
The champion will earn N200,000 while there will be prize money for players who finish within the top 16 players.
According to the Secretary General of NTTF, James Eakyns, the championship was set up to provide solutions to the downward slide in the fortune of female table tennis players in the country which has also reflected in their performance at various tournaments at home and abroad.
“We realized that our females are not doing well in major competitions and their performance have not been impressive in recent times and that is why the board led by its president, Ishaku Tikon decided to stage the tournament so that we can identify some of them we can groom to become world beaters,” he said.
The scribe added that apart from picking the best hands for major competition, the tournament would help in boosting the ratings of the players in the country.
On his part, the NTTF President Ishaku Tikon said that the tournament is the manifestation of the Federation’s deliberate attempt to reposition female table tennis by ensuring a production line of talented players who would ensure that Nigeria continues to be a relevant player in table tennis on the continent and the world at large.
“Already several tournaments are lined up for this year and we cannot afford to play second fiddle in such competition and that is why we have decided to focus on the female players so that we can raise their standard in the game.
“The first step is to identify the talented ones among them before exposing them to world class coaching and tournaments. We are expecting players at junior and senior levels to be part of the competition and we will ensure that the identified ones are groomed to become world beaters just like their male counterparts. Also in the past, Nigeria used to dominate the female event in Africa but now Egypt and other North African teams are coming up, so there is need to close the gap and that is why this tournament is very important to us,” the NTTF boss added.
The NTTF says the tournament will be used to assess and select players who would be part of the country’s team for major events while players. Players are expected to arrive on June 27.