By Sab Osuji In Brazzaville, Photo By Ganiyu Yusuf:
President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF, Honourable Enitan Oshodi has exclusively revealed to Completesportsnigeria.com his delighted at Team Nigeria's winning start in the Table Tennis event of the ongoing 11th All Africa Games here in Congo Brazzaville.
Oshodi spoke to Completesportsnigeria.com moments after Team Nigeria's men and women Table Tennis teams defeated Team Namibia, Team Botswana and Team Sudan 3-0 respectively inside the Revolution Hall, Congo Brazzaville on Thursday.
"I would say we have started very well by playing three opening games and winning all," a delighted Oshodi told Completesportsnigeria.com.
The former Lagos State commissioner for sports continued: "It's a good beginning which gives hope for a better outing in the competition, but I must say it's still a long way to go.
"All the same, I must say we've done a lot of our home works in terms of training and we are quite confident we're going to do well here at the Congo Brazzaville 2015 All Africa Games. "
The NTF boss expressed confidence in the quality of players in the tennis team but admitted that Egypt and host country, Congo Brazzaville will pose a major threat to Team Nigeria's ambition of sweeping the medals table at the Games.
"We have some fantastic players in the team. We have experienced players, including the World Best Player of the Year, Haruna Quadri here with us.
"But of course, yes, there are some difficult challenges especially from Egypt.
"In the past five years or thereabouts, they have been the best tennis-playing country in Africa, but right now we've caught up with them.
"So we are here to claim back our glory, but then Congo who are the host country have a good team with their Chinese born players.
"But of course, we've done our home work well, the coaches – about four of them, have worked real hard and like I said earlier, we have the players to do the real business," he reiterated.
Oshodi heaped praises on the facilities put in place by Congo Brzzavile for the 11th All Africa Games.
"This complex is a fantastic complex and I must give credit to the Local Organising Committee and the host country.
"Congo has done a fantastic job by providing such wonderful facilities such that you can find only in the best countries of the sporting world.
"It gives the players the opportunity to give out their best and I must confess that I'm very appreciative of that."
On the new face of tennis in Nigeria, Oshodi heaped plaudit on the media for serving out to the public, programmes and prospects of the NTF which he noted has played a big role in taking the sport to a new height in Nigeria.
"The honest truth is that one must first of all thank the media. The support they have been giving to Table Tennis since I came into office by publicising our programmes has been fantastic, " Oshodi remarked.
"They have really made the public appreciate our efforts especially at the junior level which is our major focus.
"We try to give them opportunity to play, as well as encourage them.
"This has helped in attracting sponsorships and if we could attract more money for table tennis, I think the sky will be the limit for the sport.
"The smiles on my face is the support we are getting because the media is fully behind us, getting our games to the public and for this I'm very thankful".
On veteran Segun Toriola'a planned retirement from the sport, the NTF President disclosed that his youth programme is tailored towards producing young players that can step up once the opportunity calls.
"In fact, the good news is that part of our youth programme is to get adequate replacement for the likes of Toriola and others whenever they decide to retire.
"We have the likes of Ojo Onalapo, a fantastic player, a former Olympic youth player.
"We have a lot of young players in our junior ranks. Toriola has been working with them at the national camp, about six or eight of them and we hope they will step up to fill whatever void that may crop up in the future," he concluded.