Former CUS Cagliari Table Tennis coach, Michael Oyebode told www.aclsports.com that Nigeria needs the services of legends like Atanda Musa, Segun Toriola, Sunday Eboh and Francis Sule for the game to grow in Nigeria.
The former ASD CARRARA coach said sports can only develop if the ministry and the minister engage those people who are competent in that particular sport.
Oyebode said, “Honestly, I have been following the minister of sports, Sunday Dare and I can see his passion. I think he has the will to do well but it is a generic thing, every sport will only develop if the ministry and the minister engage those people who are competent in that particular sport.
“Table Tennis is a difficult sport; you cannot understand the rudiments of table tennis if you are not a table tennis person. It is a super technical game, so I urge the minister to try and engage the likes of Segun Toriola, Sunday Eboh, Francis Sule and host of others.
“I am still very much available, but we still have people who were world class players like Atanda musa who very much available. Nigeria have top players in the world like Aruna Quadri, Omotayo Olajide, Bode Abiodun,Taiwo Mati, Funke Oshonaike, Edem Effiong, so we need to nurture them properly”, he added.
He revealed that Nigeria is currently facing problems in terms of infrastructure, technicalities and administration of the game.
The former Lagos state Table Tennis coach said coaches in Italy get engaged by national leagues and club sides but it is nearly impossible in Nigeria.
He said, “There is a lot of difference between Nigeria and Italy Table Tennis. In Nigeria, we have a lot of problems in the infrastructural, technical and administrative wings. Let me give you a very simple example, in Italy and all the other European nations, there are national leagues and club sides that engage coaches and players.
“In fact, most of us are making out livings in Europe with table tennis which is impossible in Nigeria. Another simple example is the management aspect, the Italian government through the sports ministry passes funds to the Italian Olympic committee and the committee now passes funds to the Italian Table Tennis Federation so they can execute their yearly programs.
“There is no need to run to ministry for funds again the Olympic committee created high performance center for all the sports and table tennis is involved. The talented players are kept at the high performance centers, go to school there and train to meet the world standard. My son has always been staying there in the last 6 years; another important thing is the role of the coaches.
“In Nigeria, we have not developed our coaching system which is not a good thing. There are so many coaches in Nigeria but there is no room for developing because of the environment they find themselves and table tennis has completely changed. This means, without competent hands to develop the players, it will be difficult for the coaches to take charge of them”.
He revealed that the COVID-19 Pandemic put a hold to activities in his club side since March 5.
“COVID-19 Pandemic is a terrific; the last time my club opened was March 5 and till date we have not opened. The major reason for this is because most of the playing halls in Italy belong to the schools and since the schools are closed you cannot do anything. The Italian national team have started because they have their own national training centre, so my son is back to the national high performance centre with his national team mates; for 90% of clubs in Italy until the schools allows us ,we cannot train”, Oyebode told www.aclsports.com
Michael Oyebode coaches Team Lagos Table Tennis at the 2012 National Sports Festival winning 5 Gold. He was also part of the Nigerian coaching crew to the 2011 All African Games in Mozambique and 2015 All African Games in Congo.
He took Nigerian Junior and Cadet (Boys and Girls) to Cairo in 2015 where Nigeria won 4 gold medals.
Oyebode led ASD TT CORTEMAGGIORE ITALY to win the Italian women Serie A in 2015. He coached CUS CAGLIARI, ASD CARRARA and currently the head coach of ASD CIRCOLO 2010 PRATO.