8th December, 2010
Sports philanthropist, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas has slammed the authorities overÂ the dwindling fortune of Nigerian table tennis.
Okoya-Thomas said at a press conference to herald the 42nd Asoju-Oba Table TennisÂ Championship in Lagos yesterday that he is sad with the state of the sport in theÂ country.
Okoya-Thomas, who has single-handedly sponsored the Asoju Oba for the last 42 yearsÂ expressed disappointment over the drastic decline of the sport, saying that theÂ government at all levels and the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, NTTF, have failedÂ to live up to expectations in reviving the ping pong game in the country. â€œI am notÂ impressed with the decline of table tennis in Nigeria,â€ said Okoya-Thomas, whoÂ promised that Asoju Oba will be more glamorous this year.
â€œTable tennis was popular during the era of Atanda Musa and Yomi Bankole. After thatÂ period, the game has witnessed a drastic downward trend. After the exit of Musa andÂ Bankole, only Segun Toriola and a few others made it to the world limelight. It isÂ sad that no Nigerian player, both male and female, is ranked among the top 100 inÂ the world today,â€ he lamented.
Thomas-Okoya, however, urged the relevant authorities to show deep interest in tableÂ tennis, adding that Nigeria can be among the best sporting nations in the worldÂ through the sport.
Commenting on this yearâ€™s Asoju Oba tourney, Okoya-Thomas expressed happiness thatÂ entries for this yearâ€™s event has increased tremendously. He disclosed that whatÂ motivated him to continue with the sponsorship over the years is the array of greatÂ players the tournament had produced for the country. The championship, which beginsÂ on Monday, has been moved from its traditional venue, Rowe Park Sports Centre, YabaÂ to the Molade Thomas Okoya Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere,Â Lagos.