Chairman of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Nomination Committee, Wahid Oshodi says African table tennis players can only bridge the gap with test their Asian and European counterparts by competing at elite level tournaments which should help them “up their game”.
Speaking against the backdrop of African players’ performance at the 2019 ITTF World Championships held in Budapest, Hungary, Oshodi said: “The performance of the African players has been quite fair. We were hoping for better results but they have had to contend with difficult draws and players recovering from injuries.
“The performances need to improve so we can challenge the top Asian and European players. But apart from this, I must commend Aruna Quadri who is still recovering from a hamstring injury but worked hard in getting to the round of 32 before going out in a closely contested match against the overwhelming favourite and World No 1 Fan Zhen Dong. It was a great performance. The young Nigerian former Junior Champion Ajoke Ojomu also showed great promise in her first world championship. She showed all the qualities needed to play at this level. Now she must add more hard work to her undoubted talent. The African female champion Dina Meshref also played well.”
The former President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) said for African players to medal in global tournaments, there must be conscious efforts by coaches to acquaint themselves with modern techniques in the sports. He also highlighted the importance of sponsorship and funding in helping African players become more competitive on the global scene.
“We must get our players playing more regularly against the best players in the world. Our coaches need to learn the latest techniques. We need more exposure for them and for the players. We need to get our players on the World Tour Circuit.
“This means money and they need more sponsorship and funding. We have all witnessed the vast improvements made by Aruna Quadri, Olajide Omotayo and Omar Assar since they started playing regularly on the tour. You play against the best in the world and learn from them. The support Aruna Quadri has received from Baba Ijebu Bet has helped him in no small way to ensure he attends tournaments and pay for the extra coaching that is needed at this level. Others need to emulate this,” Oshodi said.