To raise the standard of female players as well as select standing team for major tournaments, the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) is organizing the maiden national women singles open championship holding at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
With over N600,000 stakes as prize money, the two-day tournament is open to players across and outside the country and it expected to hold on June 27 to 29 with players arriving on June 27 while participating players are to have a valid NTTF License.
According to the Secretary General of NTTF, James Eakyns, there has been downward slide in the fortune of female players in the country and this has been reflected in their performance at various tournaments.
“We realized that our female 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 the rating of the players in the country.
For NTTF President, the tournament is part of the federation programme at ensuring that Nigeria continues to be relevant in 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 tournament according to NTTF would serve as selection of team for major events while players within and outside Nigeria are expected to be part of the championship.
The winner will cart home N200,000 while the top 16 players will get be rewarded for their efforts in the competition.