Table tennis: Inside NTTF hall where rising stars train against odds

THE state of sporting facilities inside the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) continues to be a great concern to hundreds of budding talents who swarm into the facility daily. 

Founded in 1951, the NTTF, tucked between an open mini-field and the National Basketball Hall, is a few metres away from the entrance of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos state.

Once a national pride, the ping-pong hall is begging for modern infrastructures as many Nigerians, especially youth, see it as a platform for actually their dreams.

The NTTF parades a dilapidated floor, few table tennis boards, spoilt bulbs and non-functioning air conditioners, which makes the hall emit heat all day.

Few persons sitting on the bench watching a tennis game.

Inside the hall are a few wooden benches for the audience or players waiting for their turn to play. There is a place for hanging clothes.

But in the face of the odds, budding table tennis players enthused with the passion of the sport wait in turns to display their skills.

One of the players, Emmanuel Augustine, called on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development to revitalise the table tennis hall.

“This place is not too good for training, as you can see the floors, the condition of this place is not too good for training. The tables are not too good, but we can still manage them. The lights are good, but the air conditioners are not working.

“The Federal Government can come and renovate everywhere, do the floors and give us new tables,” he said.

Another player, Bose Odusanya, appealed for standard equipment in the table tennis hall, noting that it would improve the game in the country.

“We need more equipment, like the tables we use to play table tennis. We have just a few. If you see the National Stadium, there are no good tables, so we need tables and other equipment to improve our game,” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Table Tennis Association, Kweku Tandoh, attributed the sterling performance of table tennis players to the proper sporting infrastructures available to them.

“If we don’t have the right facilities to support the game’s growth, there is little that we can achieve. So it goes together with coaching, education and player development.






     

     

    “We appeal to those that are there to put things right. Right infrastructures and sports facilities are very essential,” he added.

    Tandoh stressed that Nigeria’s tennis was at a crossroads between the old and young generation, hence the need for modern sporting infrastructure to aid the transition process of the junior to the elite level.

    “The transition is important. It is key. To do that transition, you must have the right ingredients: what is the coaching system and the player’s development like? You cannot transit a player from youth to senior level if you don’t get that right.

    “The senior level is very competitive now, which is the area we need to focus on more in Nigeria. Do we have the right coaches to take our youths to the elite level?” he added.

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