Players relish Lagos experience at Nigeria Open
Lagos has registered itself as one of the fans’ friendly centres, as the city is now being regarded as the “Mecca of table tennis in Africa.” This is attested to by its huge fans presence whenever it hosts the yearly Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open.
A tournament, which started as a pilot competition in 2013, has now grown to become one of the pioneer tournaments in the ITTF Challenge Plus.
From the few number of countries that featured in the 2014 edition, hundreds of players from 32 national associations are expected to converge in the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, for the five-day tournament this year.
Among the players that had graced the tournament and are still eager to be part of it are Antoine Hachard of France, Mudit Dani of India and Sarah De Nutte of Luxembourg.
Dani describes the excitement in Lagos as incomparable, adding, “the crowd at the ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open was the biggest highlight and difference between this event and other ones. Everyone was super-energetic. Not only did they support Nigerian players, but also came to support the game. It was a special feeling to play in Lagos.
“The crowds, their energy, the atmosphere is electrifying. It is like no other tournament that I have played anywhere in the world, and this is the feeling shared by many players who I have spoken to,” said the young Indian.
For De Nutte, the energetic display by Lagos fans has been awesome. “The atmosphere in Lagos is great; there are not many tournaments with that spectators in Lagos. I think it’s so nice to play there because the crowd is always fun and excited to see some table tennis matches and are always cheering the players, no matter where they are from,” said De Nutte.
Despite confirming his absence at this year’s tournament, Hachard would forever cherish every moment he spent in Lagos in 2018 as a finalist.
“The atmosphere in Lagos was crazy, people are screaming for you, which is unusual and amazing. It is a special atmosphere as the fans are so involved and they want you (player) to fight until the end,” said the Frenchman.
Apart from the fans’ engagement in the sport, the organisations coupled with the Lagos hospitality were the high points for the visitors.
To Dani, “It is a very well organised event. The hotel and food are good, the hall is nice and always filled with energetic crowds and players are well cared for in terms of transport, lounge and security among others.
“My experience at the 2018 Nigeria Open was great! The crowd, playing conditions and hospitality were perfect. Being my first ever senior pro tour event, made it even more special. If I had to put it briefly, I hope to be back again this year because it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life”.