21 Feb 2017

Olufunke Oshonaike has been a leading name in African table tennis for a long time, and her stunning victory at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Senior Championships over Egyptian opponent Dina Meshref saw the Nigerian player claim the third Women's Singles title of her career at the tournament.

Now Oshonaike, aged 41, is attempting to inspire the next generation of Nigerians to further their skills in the sport and is set to conduct a ten day training clinic from Saturday 25th February to Sunday 5th March, an opportunity for youth development that the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation is delighted to see.

by Simon Daish

Set to be hosted at the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation Training Centre, 20 players shortlisted by the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) will undergo a vigorous ten day training programme with Oshonaike taking the reins of leading the coaching clinic.

Anderson Bankole, Technical Director of the NTTF, spoke to the local media in Lagos about the upcoming training course and as reported on Tidesports, Bankole is feeling optimistic that Olufunke Oshonaike can help to inspire the country’s younger players to achieve greater heights in table tennis.

“This is a rare privilege for the players that are selected to partake. They are opportune to be learning from a capable hand. Oshonaike is a household name and has paid her dues in table tennis. She’s qualified to hold a clinic because she’s been playing for years and has a versatile knowledge. She’s been playing even long before all the players taking part in the clinic were born. She will be teaching and giving them life lessons and using herself as a practical example”, Anderson Bankole, Technical Director of the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation.

Olufunke Oshonaike and Quadri Aruna have both been standout names for Nigerian table tennis over the years, with Segun Toriola also deserving a worthy mention.

Alongside Olufunke Oshonaike’s success at the Africa Senior Championships in Agadir, 2016 saw both Quadri Aruna and Segun Toriola set Olympic records. Aruna became the first African table tennis player to reach the Men’s Singles quarter-finals with his fine performance at Rio 2016, while Toriola was honoured for becoming the first African from across all sports to compete at seven Olympic Games.

Moving forward Anderson Bankole wants to see more Nigerian table tennis stars join the ranks of the likes of Aruna, Toriola and Oshonaike and has called upon the 20 players shortlisted for the upcoming training clinic to take full advantage of the expert advice that is set to come their way.

“Knowledge can’t be forced down someone’s throat unless he or she is willing and ready to learn. I want them all to learn new things from this clinic because it will enhance their performance and make them better table tennis players. Skills neither fall from heaven nor are born with a person, skills are acquired and nurtured through self-development”, Anderson Bankole.

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