Two of the top para-table tennis playing nations in Africa, Egypt and South Africa will lead six other countries in the continent to the maiden Valuejet Para-Table Tennis Open, which will hold from December 19 to 21 at Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Other nations joining Egypt and South Africa at the three-day N10.8 million prize money tournament are Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
Apart from the Internet sensation, Ibrahim Hamato, Egypt will have in their fold, Africa’s para-table tennis record holder, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh, who will be attending his fifth Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020 in Japan.
According to the Chairman, of Para Table Tennis in the board of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Elderson Bankole, the tournament would help to put Nigeria on the world map, as well as afford the players the chance to test their might against their counterparts in Africa.
Already, five Nigerians have qualified in the para-table tennis event of Tokyo 2020 and Bankole believes with the staging of the championship, more players would be unearthed for the country.
“This is the first time we will be having this kind of competition in Nigeria and also an ITTF-certified classifier will be coming from Egypt to help classify our players in their respective classes. There is no doubt that we have talents in para-table tennis but these players must know their classes so that they can be included in the ITTF data base for major competitions. I am excited and hoping that we can again show the world that we can stage a befitting para-table tennis tournament of international standard,” Bankole said.
Bankole expressed appreciation to the sponsor, Valuejet for considering para-table tennis and hopes that this would inspire more corporate to rally behind the sport, which fetched Nigeria medals at previous Paralympic Games.
From December 16 to 18, the ITTF classifier will classify the players to their classes, while the tournament will kick off on December 19 to 21 with the top three in each event getting prize money for their efforts.
44 titles will be competed from class one to 10 in singles and team events for men and women.