‘Sports Commission Is Not Doing Enough For Other Sports’
Nigeria’s table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, was ranked number 30 last year and named Star Player of the year by the International Table Tennis Federation due to his sterling performance at the 2014 ITTF World Cup in Dusseldorf in Germany, where he got to the quarterfinal stage of the event. In this interview with The Guardian’s SAMUEL IFETOYE, Quadri bares his mind on the neglect of table tennis and other sports by those in charge at the National Sports Commission.
What are your expectations in Congo Brazzaville? FIRST and foremost, I will like to say that I have hope not just in myself, but also in the team as a whole, that we will all do well.
I strongly believe in both the men and women’s teams, especially with the newly hired German coach, Adomeit Martin. With him and the support of the coaching crew, because he is not going to do it alone, we should be able to conquer Africa once again.
But it’s not going to be a walkover. I strongly believe that with the kind of preparation we’ve had, which is about two months now; we are going to make Nigeria proud once again.
Why have you suddenly slipped in the ITTF ranking? I do not think there is something wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with me. But I can tell you that there is something wrong with the way table tennis as a sport is being run in the country.
No doubt, the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) has been doing a yeo-man’s job, as far as the game is concerned. I have been receiving tremendous support from the personal effort of the NTTF’s President, Barrister Wahid Oshodi, but nothing has come from the National Sports Commission (NSC). Most times I have to finance myself to international engagements with nothing from the Sports Commission.
I can’t really do this on my own. It’s true that I have sponsors, but it’s not enough. Sometimes I have to pay for flight tickets and hotel accommodation to attend international events where the country’s name is going to be mentioned.
Often times I couldn’t afford organiser’s assigned hotels; this means I have to trek from somewhere else, down to the venue of some competitions.
When do I get to relax before a match? Things have not really been easy for me and how do you expect me to sustain the momentum after last year’s Table Tennis World Cup in Germany.
In other parts of the world, athletes receive enough support from their country. Things like allowances for flight ticket, accommodation and feeding are provided for players. In the case of my country, nobody is giving me this kind of support, which I expect.
Mind you, table tennis is not as rich as football that has a general acceptance and with a lot of sponsors falling over themselves. This kind of support, which is lacking in table tennis, is making me a little bit depressed.
There are so many things that I know I can do if I can get the support of the Sports Ministry. I believe I can do better than what I achieved last year if only the motivation is there.
With my feat at the World Cup, I know I deserve so many things that I am not getting right now in the country. I hope things will change for the better.
How prepared are you for the Games? One of the reasons why I had to embark on a personal training tour to China was to learn some of the things I believe I lack and some of the things I really do not know about the sport.
And by the special grace of God I believe that some of the things that I learnt in China will be put to use in Congo Brazzaville. Also, preparatory to the Games, I will be participating in two tournaments, one in Czech Republic and the Austria Opens.
This is just only me, what about others? I cannot do this alone; we should support others too. These tournaments are necessary just to keep one in top shape towards the All Africa Games.
The question I ask myself is, ‘are the other sports given the same opportunity, motivation like in athletics?’ It’s only athletics that have enough preparation while others are just in the camp practicing. Camping cannot be equated with real competition.
I don’t think camping is enough to succeed in Congo Brazzaville. The kind of exposure given to athletics is what I expect to be given to other athletes participating in Congo Brazzaville.
What is Adomeit Martin bringing into the team? The German coach is very good and he is one of the best coaches in the world. My achievement last year was due to his inputs.
He too needs motivation just as we the players. However, whatever support the Sports Ministry deems fit for the technical adviser, the same should be done to the other coaches and players.
With the acquisition of the German by the Ministry, I think we just got a kind of support from them. With the new technical adviser, by the grace of God, I hope to perform better. How real is the Egyptian, Congolese threat? It is interesting to know that the Congolese have been in China I think for about one year now. As for the Egyptians, they too have been in China for about three months.
This was why I went to China too just to adjust to some of those things. And seriously I believe that with the little that I have learnt in China, I should be able to conquer Africa once again!