The gains of staging the annual ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open have started yielding, as the Lagos State Government has reaffirmed its support to the Afica’s elite tournament, while the Governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode promises to erect a 5,000seater hall for the championship.
Also, outstanding Nigeria players were also rewarded by the Governor with Quadri Aruna gets the large chunk of the largesse as the men’s singles got additional N1m ($2800) as bonus for his feat. Others that made it to the last 16 got N25,000 ($70) each.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who watched the final matches at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, expressed excitement over the emergence of first Nigerian to win the tournament while assuring that the Lagos State Government would support the tournament in a bigger edition in 2019.
The Governor told journalists after watching the finals of the tournament where Nigerian table tennis star, Aruna Quadri emerged victorious, that it was gratifying to note the remarkable improvement in this year’s edition of the championship, saying that next year’s edition would be more exciting.
“This is a major improvement from last year’s competition and again for the very first time in the last six years, we found a Nigerian winning the men’s singles and this brings a lot of excitement for me because I have been supporting table tennis and I know that next year’s tournament will be more exciting than this.
“As a government, we are going to put more support; we put more financial support so that we can attract more people and also encourage more Nigerians to participate. You know we actually gave bonus to Nigerians that performed well and that is also to encourage more of our own local players to compete internationally,” the Governor said. Impressed with the organization and the huge crowd that graced the competition this year, the Governor who was decked in a blue track suit however, assured that the Lagos State Government would put efforts in place to host the tournament in a bigger hall to encourage more participation, just as he added that the programmes of his administration for sports development in the State were on course.
“We have a master programme to encourage sports in Lagos State and people would see it as it is unfolding. You can see that we are reconstructing the popular Onikan Stadium; we are going to Ajegunle, to do another Sports Complex there and I don’t want to overpromise but I can assure that next year, we are going to do this table tennis tournament in a bigger hall that can take 16 tables at the same time and also take maybe about 5,000 fans at the same time,” said Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The fair play award also went to Quadri Aruna while Jamiu Ayanwale was named as the best performing Nigerian player with a reward of $200 each. Also, the best Nigerian home-grown player of the tournament, Jamiu Anyawale was rewarded with cash gift of $200.