The atmosphere synonymous with the Nigeria Open will be re-enacted from May 18 when the 2021 Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Championships kick off at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
The tournament which would serve as another test for the home-based players will be contested by states and clubs across the country from May 18 to 22 in 12 events, including veterans above 50 years.
According to the prospectus, players are expected to compete for the top prize in team events (men and women), singles (men and women), doubles (men and women), doubles U-21 (men and women), cadet (boys and girls) and veterans singles above 50.
NTTF Technical Director who is also the Tournament Director, Adesoji Tayo, said the tournament would help to unearth new talents, following the exploits of some junior players at the 20th National Sports Festival tagged ‘Edo 2020’.
“We are excited that new players are coming on board, particularly with what happened in Edo where Amadi Omeh who beyond all expectations, emerged as the new NSF Champion. Who could have imagined that such a player who recently graduated from the Junior to Senior cadre would defeat some of the established players to win the tournament?
“This has again shown us that with more competitions like this, we can witness more players coming through to upstage the established ones. We also want to use the tournament to re-enact the atmosphere synonymous with the Nigeria Open which was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to bring back the atmosphere with this tournament as players across the country are expected to be part of the five-day event with mouth-watering prize money,” Tayo said.
He also added that the U-21 and cadet events have been included in the National Championships to give room for upcoming players to showcase their talents against their counterparts, while Technical Officials would be on ground to identify talents that will form the bulk of the national junior team.
Also, World No.1 U-11 cadet player Musa Mustapha and his brother Mustapha Mustapha will be in Lagos for the tournament.
He added that the idea of the veterans was to encourage social clubs across the country to be part of the Table Tennis fiesta.
Already, the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) has expressed their readiness to host the tournament as Table Tennis is one of their marquee sports, which has made the state Africa’s Table Tennis hub.
One of Africa’s longest serving referees, John Peters has also been named as the tournament referee, while ITTF-certified Competition Manager, Segun Peters will handle the draw proceedings at the championships.