Okoya Blasts Govt Over Decline

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Sports philanthropist, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas has slammed the authorities over  the dwindling fortune of Nigerian table tennis.

Okoya-Thomas said at a press conference to herald the 42nd Asoju-Oba Table Tennis  Championship in Lagos yesterday that he is sad with the state of the sport in the  country.

Okoya-Thomas, who has single-handedly sponsored the Asoju Oba for the last 42 years  expressed disappointment over the drastic decline of the sport, saying that the  government at all levels and the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, NTTF, have failed  to live up to expectations in reviving the ping pong game in the country. “I am not  impressed with the decline of table tennis in Nigeria,” said Okoya-Thomas, who  promised that Asoju Oba will be more glamorous this year.

“Table tennis was popular during the era of Atanda Musa and Yomi Bankole. After that  period, the game has witnessed a drastic downward trend. After the exit of Musa and  Bankole, only Segun Toriola and a few others made it to the world limelight. It is  sad that no Nigerian player, both male and female, is ranked among the top 100 in  the world today,” he lamented.

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Thomas-Okoya, however, urged the relevant authorities to show deep interest in table  tennis, adding that Nigeria can be among the best sporting nations in the world  through the sport.

Commenting on this year’s Asoju Oba tourney, Okoya-Thomas expressed happiness that  entries for this year’s event has increased tremendously. He disclosed that what  motivated him to continue with the sponsorship over the years is the array of great  players the tournament had produced for the country. The championship, which begins  on Monday, has been moved from its traditional venue, Rowe Park Sports Centre, Yaba  to the Molade Thomas Okoya Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere,  Lagos.

—Sunday  Akintoye

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