by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
A statistics graduate from the University of Ibadan, he launched his umpiring career in 1973 as part of the technical team at the initial African Games in Lagos.
“I can remember vividly that my first contact with table tennis was in 1958 when I saw my schoolmates using our teacher’s table to play the game. I quickly fell in love with the sport. Soon, I started beating everybody in my class. Unfortunately, we never had any organised tournament.
Even in the university I was still involved in the sport having joined the then Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as a member of staff. My involvement in the sport at NEPA really helped me. In 1972, the then President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Dr Adegboyega Efunkoya, wanted to train a select group of people in umpiring and I was part of the team trained in administering the sport. That was when I got my initial formal education in table tennis umpiring.
I made my international debut as an umpire in 1973 and I have been officiating table tennis since then. I must admit that table tennis has taken me around the whole world. Even where I could not afford to go, table tennis has opened doors for me to go. So for me, table tennis is life and that is why I cannot stop my romance with the sport.” John Peters
After making his umpiring debut, at the African Games in 1973, John Peters officiated in Nairobi 1987, Abuja 2003, Algiers 2007, Maputo 2011, Congo Brazzaville 2015 and now in Rabat 2019.
Apart from his continental duties, Peters handled matches at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Glasgow. He was also at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The only male Nigerian blue badge umpire, Peters is not ready to quit the sport.
“I don’t know whether I can be separated from table tennis. It is in my blood and my passion. Fortunately, there is no retirement age in umpiring. That is why I will continue to officiate as long as I am alive.” John Peters