The 2017 ITTF Seamaster Challenge Nigeria Open ended on Sunday , the thirteen of August . The tournament started three years ago under the leadership of the former president of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation and the 2017 Chairman of the Local Organising Committee , Mr Enitan Oshodi .
The annual tournament has placed Nigeria and the host city , Lagos , as the hub of table tennis in Africa . Since inception of this ranking tournament in 2014 , in Lagos , the profile of Nigerian players has risen in global ranking of the international table tennis federation .
There are therefore six lessons to learn from the 2017 Edition of this ranking tournament .
Veteran table tennis player Bilikisu Popoola with her dance steps at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos
Present at the 1969 World Championships in Munich, West Germany, the first Nigerian player to compete in the global event; Bilikisu Bola Popoola was a welcome guest on Thursday 10th August at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos.
Furthermore, in the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, the 75 year old stole the show.
Table Tennis is next to Football in Nigeria
In terms of crowd attendance , strict adherence to international standards and the support from private companies , the tournament can pass as the only A- grade sporting events in Nigeria .
The five days tournament has in attendance an estimate of fifty thousands spectators , which include players , match officials and journalists.
The Support and partnership of private companies gave massive boost to the tournament , from Staco Insurance , who is insurance provider for players and officials , to Swift Network , the provider of free Wi-Fi and Premier Bet (Baba ijebu ) , the official partner .
Super Sports Nigeria provided live coverage on the final day , ASENTV signal live to viewers via Facebook and interview segment , Of worthy mention is Unilever, Point Delanyard, Super Sports and Eko Hotel Suites .
Nigeria Table Tennis is in capable hands .
The Newly elected President of the federation , Engineer Ishaku Tikon , who owns a table tennis club and the LOC chairman, Mr Enitan Oshodi, has proven to share the same vision and sentiment for the federation. The federation seems to be the only federation with peaceful succession .
Abiodun Olabode became the first Nigerian to defeat Aruna Quadri in ITTF Tournament
Against all odds , Portugal based , Abiodun Olabode defeated Africa number one male player 4-2 (11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9) to qualify for the quarter-final.
He became the only flag bearer for Nigeria until he lost to India’s Gandhi Sarthak in the semi-final.
Egypt rules Africa’s Table Tennis
Aruna Quadri is Nigeria’s lone voice in table tennis , even if the Egyptians hasn’t swept most of the medals on Sunday, Omar Assar is wining the men singles event for a record of three times.
In 2015 , Dina Meshref won the U21 female category , On Sunday , She won the women singles Event .
17 years old , Yusuf Abdel-Aziz from Egypt also won the U21 male category .
The Highest number of entries and foreign participants for any sporting events in Nigeria excluding African games .
According to Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer , the tournament received ” No less than 148 players, comprising 95 men and 53 women, representing 22 national associations had submitted entries prior to the deadline date of Monday 10th July.”
Mudashiru Shittu writes from Lagos