New NTTF board wants to replace ageing stars
Newly elected president of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Ishaku Tikon has declared that producing more players that would emerge world champions is the cardinal focus of the board under his leadership.
He said members of the board were determined and have resolved to hit the ground running by putting in place strategies that would further entrench Nigeria as one of the top table tennis nations in the world.
According to the Taraba State-born sports administrator, working towards producing players that would replace the big ones currently on the scene is paramount. “In line with the directive of the Honourable Minister of Sports, we intend to hit the ground running immediately by going down to the grassroots to bridge the gap and discover more talents. This is because that is where the hidden talents are and we need to start bringing them up and prepare them to take over from the ageing players who no doubt have done this great nation well.
“Our target is to work hard in that direction. Our players have really done well over the world and we intend to work closely with them to improve their performances.
“We want to produce champions that will challenge world beaters like Ma Long. We are not just looking forward to dominate Africa. We are looking beyond the continent and aim to will produce Nigerian version of Ma Long,” he enthused.
Tikon also added that his board was committed to building and consolidating the already good and vibrant table tennis culture in the country by improving on capacity building for coaches and welfare of players.
“We are going to work with the coaches, build their capacity to be able to impact on the players. We’ll look at the equipment within the federation to meet up with the challenges of the ever advancing world of table tennis to meet up with modern trends and dynamics. We have short time in our hands because come August 9 to 13, 2017, we will have the Challenge Series, which is called ‘Nigerian Open’ in Lagos.
So far about 21 countries have indicated interest to participate in the championship, which has attracted a total of about 140 entries as l speak. So, the challenge is just by the corner and our target in the new board is to ensure that Team Nigeria competes favourably. Our teams have already gone into camping and are training hard to meet up with the coming challenges.”
Tikon said funding remains the major and immediate headache confronting the development of the sport, adding, however, that the board will partner with private organizations in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to overcome the challenge.
“The immediate challenge is funding, but we will partner with sponsors from the private sector in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to see how we can get the required funding to meet surmount the challenge,” he said.
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