by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Following agreement reached by the African Table Tennis Federation with the support of the International Table Tennis Federation, the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium will in addition be the host for the 2019 ITTF African Cup and the African Club Championships.
The date on the calendar for the African Club Championships is Wednesday 31st July to Friday 2nd August; for the ITTF-Africa Cup it is Saturday 3rd to Monday 5th August.
Undoubtedly, the growth in stature of the Nigerian Open was a major factor in the awarding of the prestigious continental tournaments to Lagos, a fact Khaled El-Salhy, President of African Table Tennis Federation recognized.
“Nigeria applied to host the prestigious events on time; the Executive Committee decided it was a very good opportunity to bring the events to Lagos just prior to the Seamaster 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.” Khaled El-Salhy
Most importantly, Ishaku Tikon, the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, is more than ready for the ensuing events.
“We are ready to host the tournaments. We have the experience and the human resources to put on a good show and we hope to put Africa on the world map with hosting of the championships.” Ishaku Tikon
Equally, soon after, the 2019 African Games will be staged in Morocco, a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The tournaments in Lagos are not only events in their own right but ideal as part of a preparation itinerary.
“Nigeria is one of the most experienced African federations hosting continental and world title events, I see that success is increasing year by year for their ITTF World Tour event; thus this year with additional African events, they will have more success. Each association may register two male and two female players for the ITTF Africa Cup, including the title holders.” Khaled El-Salhy
The reigning champions, the winners in 2017 in Agadir, Morocco, the tournament alternates annually with the Africa Top 16 Cup, are Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and Egypt’s Dina Meshref.