Funke Oshonaike has condemned the decision by the sports ministry to exclude female table tennis players from the country’s contingent to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The sports ministry last week said the country would be represented by five male players in table tennis at the Games.
Oshonaike, 42, told our correspondent on the telephone that she was disappointed that the ministry decided to exclude women players from the competition.
The longest-serving national woman table tennis player said, “I am very sad because it is a bad thing that no female player will represent Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games.
“The decision to reduce the table tennis team, where we have a very good chance of winning medals, will discourage the female players. I have attended many competitions for the country and I could be exempted but what of the players who are currently doing well but lack the exposure needed for them to be seen by the world?
“In the ranking of Commonwealth countries, Nigeria should not be too far from India but we will not have our female players in Australia. Countries who are working hard to catch up with Nigeria and have no hopes of winning medals will have their female players there. Ghana, Kenya and Mauritius will attend but Nigeria will be missing from the women’s event. It is a sad development.”
Oshonaike attributed the country’s inability to win any title at the ITTF Africa Top 16 in Kenya to the high altitude of the East African country.
Aruna Quadri won silver after losing the title to Egypt’s Omar Assar while Offiong Edem won bronze in the women’s singles. No Nigerian will represent the continent at the 2018 ITTF World Cups later in the year.
She said, “Playing in Kenya in such a high altitude was tasking and it affected our performances. None of us had enough time to get used to the weather before the competition began but I am happy with the performances put up by Quadri and Edem.
“It shows that we can still do better given the appropriate conditions including weather. We look forward to the African Championships later in the year.”