Following the recent decision of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to upgrade the annual Seamaster ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open to the status of Challenge Plus come 2019, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Hon Wahid Enitan Oshodi has identified infrastructure as one of the key areas the tournament needs to improve to accommodate its new status.
Upgrading the Nigeria Open to Challenge Plus means there will be more Prize Money at stake, more world ranking points, and better playing conditions and TV production. As such, the total Prize Money at stake come 2019 will be $60,000 as against the $46,000 that is up for grabs this weekend.
Speaking at a Press Conference on Saturday afternoon at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, venue of the tournament, Oshodi noted that while the upgrade portends a good future for the sport in Nigeria, it however comes with its own challenges as there is a need to improve the standard of the tournament going forward.
He said, “The ITTF has taken note of this competition and we believe this has happened due to the fact that we have worked hard to improve the quality of the competition over the years and also in terms of media coverage where we have gotten massive hits. Also, the fans in Lagos are a special breed. Unlike the gentlemanly claps you see in other tournaments around the world, the Lagos fans bring the whole place down.
“However, this upgrade comes with a whole of problems in terms of hospitality and infrastructure. We have the right ingredients in terms of viewership and sponsorship. All we need now is the infrastructure. We need to get a bigger venue because the place we are currently using is bursting at the seams. Also, if you are bringing 100 players from other parts of the world, logistics like transportation and accommodation have to be in place.
“We cannot do this by ourselves, and money can do a lot more for us. We remain grateful to our main sponsors Baba Ijebu for supporting this tournament. This isn’t exactly the biggest market for them but they have been consistent. The Lagos State Government has been the rock behind this tournament, and we are grateful for their support over the years.”
The Challenge Series is the Tour below the premier ITTF World Tour, with its goal of providing players from around the world valuable playing opportunities to get the experience and world ranking points to take them to the next step of playing at ITTF World Tour events.
The 2019 Nigeria Open will hold from August 7th to 11th.