by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Frank Momoh, a Lagos based businessman who is the owner of the Frot Group, an energy and construction company and has been supporting the Nigerian team for the last six months; organised a reception at the Wheatbaker Hotel.
Generously, he awarded Quadri Aruna US$ 2,500 for being the first African table tennis player to reach the quarter-final stage of a Men’s Singles event at an Olympic Games. In addition he gave Segun Toriola US$ 1,250 to mark his seventh appearance in an Olympic Games; whilst also adding US$ 2,500 to be shared amongst the group.
“This is the most memorable moment in my entire sports career,” said Segun Toriola when speaking to Olalekan Okusan, the Press Officer for the African Table Tennis Federation.
“The 2016 Rio Olympic Games was my seventh and I have not received this kind of gesture from any individual or company in the past”, added Segun Toriola. “I am really overwhelmed by this gesture from Frot Group and I will forever be grateful to the owner of this company.”
Also present to welcome the players were officials of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation. Chinedu Ezeala-Ogundare, the Secretary-General, was present as was Olabanji Oladapo, Board Member and Vice President of the African Table Tennis Federation.
“I represent a company that believes in putting back to the society we live in”, said Frank Momoh, whose company has also supported football and wheelchair basketball at state and national levels.
“When you invest, you expect what we call a return for investment”, added Frank Momoh. “I am so happy that our investment in Quadri for the Rio Olympic Games paid off; one person cannot change the face of Nigerian sports but we will continue to do our best for our athletes to realize their dream.”
Disappointing Overall Performance
Pleased with the efforts of Quadri Aruna in particular but overall it was a very disappointing Olympic Games for Nigeria. They won just one medal, the colour being bronze.
“The embarrassment is getting too much; Nigeria, a big country of over 180 million people should do better at the Olympics”, added Frank Momoh. “Our football team just managed to win a bronze and everybody is singing that a half loaf of bread is better than none; it should not be so.”
Disappointing and Frank Momoh had a clear message for all his business colleagues.
“I am using this opportunity to call on the private sectors to come to the aid of Nigerian sports; I am calling on our government to bring back our inter house sports, Principal Cup and NUGA Games”, added Frank Momoh. “The Jamaican Usain Bolt may not be the fastest man in the world but he is the fastest man so far discovered; I have the belief that Bolt may not be faster than those our men in the village who use their bare feet to chase rabbits and catch them in the bush.”
It is an intriguing thought; greyhounds are pretty quick when chasing rabbits!
“We all know that rabbits are faster than human beings all over the world”, continued Frank Momoh. “What I am saying in effect is that a majority of our talents are yet to be discovered and with more support from the private sectors, I am sure we will put up a better performance at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
A disheartened tone of voice but not when Quadri Aruna or Segun Toriola were the topics of conversation.
“Like I said earlier, I am rewarding Quadri Aruna for his brilliant performance in Rio; it goes to show that with more support for his preparation for the next Olympics, which includes sponsoring him to attend world class competitions, the sky will be his limit in Tokyo 2020”, stressed Frank Momoh. “I also decided to reward Segun Toriola for his contribution to the development of table tennis and his induction into Club Seven at the Olympics.”
Furthermore, Frank Momoh was full of praise for Wahid Oshodi, the President of the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and the way he is promoting table tennis in the country.
“The leadership of NTTF has proven once again that it has good plans for table tennis”, he stressed. “With patriotic support from sport loving Nigerians and organizations, Nigeria can establish her authority in world reckoning.”
Support and understandably, Quadri Aruna was most appreciative of the backing that he had received.
Grateful for Support
“Perhaps, if not for the financial and moral support he gave to me and Toriola during our preparation for the Games, the journey would have been difficult for me in Rio”, said Quadri Aruna. “Before the Olympics, I received support from the Frot Group, which helped me to buy my training kit and some other things I needed to do well in Rio; Momoh has done so much for table tennis and my prayer is to continue to do well in my career so that his labour will not be in vain.”
Thankful for the support, it was the very same reaction from Chinedu Ezeala-Ogundare, and Olabanji Oladapo; like Quadri Aruna and Segun Toriola all were grateful for the efforts of the Frot Group, the efforts of Frank Momoh