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Sports News of Thursday, 1 December 2022


Nigeria pulls out of ITTF tourney in Tunisia

Taiwo Mati Taiwo Mati

Table tennis quartet Taiwo Mati, Muiz Adegoke, Mustapha Mustapha and Samuel Boboye will play no part in this month’s World Youth Championships, The PUNCH reports.

The tournaments will serve off in Tunisia from December 4 to 11.

This move comes after Nigeria missed out on the 2022 ITTF World Championships in Chengdu, China last September.

Our correspondent learnt that the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation officially wrote to the International Table Tennis Federation about its decision to withdraw the boys’ team from the championships due to paucity of funds.

Nigeria’s withdrawal means Africa’s slot will be handed over to Egypt in Tunisia and also deny the boys the needed exposure and ranking points.

NTTF president, Ishaku Tikon, who rued the withdrawal, said the federation had written to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in October about the championship and made several visits to the ministry to secure funds.

“I knew what these boys went through before qualifying for this tournament and for two months we had written to the ministry about the trip, but we did not get any result from all the visits as the excuse was that there were no funds,” Tikkon said.

“I am not happy that our young players will not be competing with their counterparts at the biggest youth gathering in Tunis. But this is where we find ourselves and it prompted us to withdraw the boys team in order to avoid possible sanctions from the world table tennis ruling body.”

However, a staff of the ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was high time the federation looked beyond the ministry for funds to attend major competitions.

“I think most federations are not looking inwards to source for sponsors to prosecute most of their programmes. The ministry has a lot to cater for and the funds available cannot meet the needs of all the federations.

“So, federations should go out there and seek support from private sectors to bankroll their activities because the approved budget for sports cannot cater for all the federations,” our source said.

Meanwhile, Mati, who should have competed in the U-19 boys’ singles as well as partner Egypt’s Marwan Gamal in the boys’ U-19 doubles event, lamented the absence of Nigeria from the event.

“It’s unfortunate that we will not be competing in the team event but I hope a miracle happens,” Mati told The PUNCH.

“I am supposed to compete in two events at the championship and I hope to get a response from the federation soon. If I do not, I may fund myself because it will boost my rankings with the year coming to an end.”

Mati is currently ranked 101 in the current ITTF rankings.