28 Feb 2017

Over 20 players drawn from different states across Nigeria are currently taking part in coaching sessions being held at the National Training Centre in Lagos.

Commencing on Monday 27th February, the initiative is being led by Olufunke Oshonaike, the reigning African champion; proceedings involve three days coaching and three days tournament play, matters concluding on Saturday 4th March. The tournament will serve as a major part of the selection process for the 2017 ITTF African Junior Championship to be held in Tunis in April.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Two days of play nearing conclusion, the reaction from all has been one of great excitement, being able learn from one of Nigeria’s foremost sportswomen; based in Germany, commencing in Atlanta in 1996, Olufunke Oshonaike has competed in the six most recent Olympic Games.

Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer spoke to those present.

“I had not had a close contact before with Olufunke Oshonaike; I have been hearing about her exploits and what she has achieved in the sport. I am so happy that I am being coached by her. I am really enjoying the camp; only one day but it was as if we have been together for months. She made the clinic more exciting with the way she related to us. I have also learned how to attack more with my backhand and forehand; also I have improved my movement”, Temidayo Ajayi (11 years old)

“I have had close contact with Oshonaike in the past but I am seeing her from another dimension in this camp. She was homely and fun to be with. She relates very well with us by making the camp more exciting. We are comfortable with her and this has enabled us to enjoy every moment of the training; this is the first day but I am sure at the end of the week, I will be a better and well-coordinated player”, Rofiat Jimoh (14 years old)

“The first day seemed as if we had been in the camp for weeks. It was full of fun, it has been the best camp I have attended. I have gained particularly in the area of footwork which Oshonaike taught us today. I feel so happy seeing her teach what we are lacking. The most exciting part of the camp is the fun we are having whilst being taught; this alone made it exciting for us”, Iyanuoluwa Falana (12 years old)

“I am particularly thrilled with the response of the players. There is no doubt that they are full of talent; what has encouraged me on this first day was their enthusiasm to learn, this has really motivated me. We will have more than one of them stepping into my shoes; this kind of camp must be full of fun; if it is fun they will show interest”, Olufunke Oshonaike

“This is just my own way of giving back to the society what I gained; I think former athletes like me should see what they can do to help various sports to grow in Nigeria. I must say that the harsh economic times in Nigeria have not helped the government to do much to the sport but former players should see what they can do to help. I am happy that I am doing this and I am also motivated to do more. I hope that at the end of the clinic, we can see more former players coming forward to do the same thing for the sport”, Olufunke Oshonaike


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