A foreign-based table tennis coach, Michael Oyebode, on Friday said that the current players in Nigeria lacked the basics required to have a good career.
Oyebode, who coaches ASD Teco Corte Auto Tavolo Cortemaggiore Club of Italy, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from his base that it’s not the players’ fault.
“To improve table tennis in Nigeria, we need to improve on our basics; we must have a competent structure and coaches.
“When we were young, we had good structure and permit me to say, good coaches. I grew up in Lagos with coaches like Dele Olasumbo a.k.a. Malawi, Wole Orukotan, the late Akinwunmi Santos, Lateef Sunmola.
“Segun Toriola was in Ogun with the late coach Wole Ogunmefun and a host of many good coaches across the states.
“Right now, I can’t really point at any of this kind of structures and in the national team, we have the late coach Oduntan, Babtunde Obisanya and they were working well with the products of all the states.
“Most of the players we have right now are not good in the sport. In fact, when I see some of them, I always tell them they don’t know how to play.
“Yes they don’t like me saying this, but they later found out that I am saying the truth.
“Whenever they step out of Nigeria to play, they realise I was saying the truth.
“A Nigerian player told me in Italy, coach you are right by saying we don’t know how to play the first day he played in Italy,’’ he said.
Oyebode said that table tennis in Nigeria had improved tremendously in the last three years.
“Table tennis in Nigeria has been functioning better in the last three years, thanks to the effort of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation board lead by Wahid Enitan-Oshodi.
“Enitan-Oshodi is a passionate lover of table tennis. He has done well and he is still doing everything in his capacity to see that table tennis is surviving in Nigeria.
“We must all be very grateful to him. We need to find a way to develop the abundant talents in Nigeria that has become a big problem.
NAN reports that Oyebode has been in Italy for about 22 years and played in many clubs. In the last seven years, he has been coaching in top Italian clubs.
Oyebode was part of the Nigerian team since 1993 under Obisanya. (NAN)