by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
It is a quite unique situation father and son representing different countries.
“In Lagos it was not the first time I had coached against my son. In the Italian league, we have played against each other but that did not stop me from doing my job as a coach. He also understands that I have to do my job, it has never bothered him. I am happy for him because he has been able to make the Italian National Junior Team, he has also won several titles at junior level. Now he has established himself in the team. I am indeed happy for him and for the opportunity given to him by Italy.” Michael Oyebode
Based in Europe, there are greater opportunities for John Oyebode than might be experienced in Nigeria; it is a fact of which both father and son are aware.
“I don’t think I can dump Italy for Nigeria because the Italian system has given me all the opportunities to excel in life. In the last five years, I have been at the Italian Training Camp in Formia, Rome, where we practise and also receive an education. Also, I have had the opportunities to compete in various competitions outside Italy. All these are things have made me become a better table tennis player.” John Oyebode.
A chance to improve but also John Oyebode is well aware that progress is being made in Nigeria.
“It was my first time to play in a competitive tournament in Nigeria and I was really impressed with the organisation of the Nigeria Open. The atmosphere coupled with other logistics made it easy for the players to concentrate. Also, I am fascinated with the style of play of the Nigerian players; their style makes them unique compared to others in Europe. As a table tennis player, I have never seen more noisy and supportive fans. They are always supporting the players and they appreciate quality; this for me was a major motivation for the players. I am looking forward to next year and I believe in 2018 there will be even more players competing.” John Oyebode
Could next year be the best open international tournament in Nigeria? The signs are pointing that way.