Following the successful staging of one of the elite tournaments in the world, the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) backed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has awarded the hosting right to Nigeria for the 2019 ITTF African Cup and Club Championships in August 2019.
The ever-bubbling Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun will welcome top players from Africa for the continental tournaments which serve as dress rehearsal for the 2019 African Games holding in Morocco later this year.
According to the President of African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy, it was Nigeria’s pedigree in staging one of the continent’s colourful tournaments that prompted the ATTF Executive Council (EC) to give the West African nation the nod to stage the tournaments.
“Nigeria applied for the bid of hosting such prestigious event on time and the EC found it is a very good chance to bring the event to Lagos just prior to the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open in order to give multiple benefit for the African players to play more than one tournament especially at same venue. Also it aims to encourage more African players to feature in the Nigeria Open this year,” he said.
He expressed optimism that more players would feature in the tournaments as most of them would be using as tune-up to the 2019 African Games in Morocco, which serves as Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers.
For the President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Ishaku Tikon, Nigeria is known to have staged one of the colourful table tennis tournaments in the world, adding that hosting the continental tournaments would not be an issue.
“We are ready to host the tournaments as ITTF and ATTF have both agreed to do the necessary things to ensure we stage befitting tournaments. We have the experience and the human resources to put up a good show and we hope to again put Africa on the world map with hosting of the championships,” Tikon said.
On the ability of Nigeria to stage the tournament, the ATTF boss said: “Nigeria is one of the very experienced African Federations hosting Continental & World title events, and I see that success is increasing year by year for their ITTF World Title event, thus this year with additional African events, they will have more success.”
For this event, each national association is expected to register four players made up of two men and two female as the African Cup serves as qualifiers for the ITTF World Cups for men and women.
“Each Association will register two male and two female players including the title holders – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Dina Meshref of Egypt being the champions of previous edition in Agadir, Morocco in 2017,” El-Salhy added.
The African Club Championships serves off on July 31 to August 2 while the African Cup holds on August 3 to 5 with an average 15 countries and 70 players expected to compete in the tournaments in Lagos, Nigeria.