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Asoju Oba Cup’s 50th edition will be second to none, organisers promise

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• It’s springboard for table tennis talents, says Obisanya
Players and table tennis enthusiasts coming for the 50th edition of the Asoju Oba Cup later this month must be braced for one of the biggest parties in the nation’s sports history, organisers of the competition have revealed.

The family of the late Molade Okoya-Thomas, who established the competition about 50 years ago, yesterday hinted that they, in conjunction with the Lagos State government, had concluded plans to mark this anniversary edition in grand style.

Although The Guardian could not get the exact features to be expected this year at the championship scheduled for the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, there are indications that winners would get enhanced prizes just as music, dance and other forms of arts would be employed to make the competition a family affair.

Speaking on the longest running table tennis competition in Africa, the maiden winner of the men’s singles title, Babatunde Obisanya described the championship as a springboard for table tennis talents in the country.

According to Obisanya, many of the top table tennis stars came through the competition that is now in its 50th year.

“Even when I won the competition in 1968, it was my performance that earned me a place in the senior national team, while a lot of other players later joined me from the competition.

“I cannot enumerate all the gains the tournament has brought to Nigerian sports industry, but then even when I was the national coach, players were most times selected from the competition.

“For me, the climax of the tournament was when Atanda Musa and Yomi Bankole who were both members of the national team played in the final when the sponsor donated a Peugeot Saloon car as the star prize for the eventual winner. That was the first time an athlete would win a new car by competing in a competition.”


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