By Oluwaseyi Oduneye
Nigeria will not participate in the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior Championships in Tunis, Tunisia.
The Championships will hold from April 9 to April 15.
Nigeria’s absence from the competition may have cost two of the country’s representatives fighting for slots to participate in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Ten players, comprising five boys and five girls, are billed to compete in Tunisia.
The boys are Azeez Solanke, Abayomi Animashaun, Amadi Umeh, Jamiu Ayanwale and Taiwo Matti.
While the girls are Tosin Oribamise, Agnes Onoja, Rafiat Jimoh, Sukurat Aiyelabegan and Iyanuoluwa Falana.
Solanke and Oribamise are to also take part in the Youth Olympic Games qualifiers also in Tunisia from April 16 to April 17.
The players have been in closed camp organised by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for over a week at the National Stadium, Lagos.
The players expressed disappointment with the situation and said that it was a development that puts off an athlete.
She said that she had prepared well with high hopes for the competition.
“My hopes were high and now are shattered because I had given my best to training. It wasn’t easy combining both training with my studies but I did it.
“Now all the effort is a waste, well I have learnt in camp and will go back to build up on what I have learnt,’’ she said.
Animashaun appealed to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure that there would not be a recurrence.
“Honestly speaking this can put off some people from playing table tennis again,’’ he said.
Umeh told NAN that he’s heart broken and called for more support for table tennis.
He said that he had set a target for himself in Tunisia and now that can’t be achieved.
German-based Funke Oshonaike said that the development had broken her heart.
“I was in Lagos in February for Funke Oshonaike Tabke Tennis Foundation. I invited about 30 talented players in Nigeria for 10 days clinic and competition.
“With the help of Ford Foundation, and some other support I was able to accommodate, feed and clothe all of them for the 7-day clinic.’’