Ogun - Ex- Nigerian table tennis international, Kehinde Okenla, on Thursday decried the declining standard of the game.
Okenla said that the standard of the game had dropped considerably compared with what it used to be.
``It is saddening to note the declining standard of table tennis in our country and if something urgent is not done to reverse the trend, the future of the game will be bleak,’’ Okenla said.
The former African table tennis female champion attributed the situation to lack of sponso,rship of competitions, over concentration on football and poor funding among others.
Okenla recalled that in her playing days in the early 80s, there were about nine major competitions across the nation within a year.
She listed some of the tournaments as Star (Open), Omo (Open), Coscharis (Open), Asoju -Oba (closed), Cocacola (open) and Bournvita (open) competitions.
She explained that the competitions were sources of motivation for players, saying: ``They served as platform through which we displayed skills acquired during training.’’
Okenla said that young stars were usually discovered through the tournaments, adding that the lack of adequate competitions accounted for the dearth of new and young stars who could replace the old ones.
``Old stars like Segun Toriola, Monday Morountoun and Funke Oshinaike had continued to dominate the scene in the past years because there are no suitable replacements for them."
Okenla expressed regrets that Egypt had taken over from Nigeria as African champion and urged private organisations and governments to fund the game to restore its lost glory.
She called for the revival of age-group table tennis competitions and more commitment from coaches as other means of improving the declined standard of the game.