Tosin Oribamise and Azeez Solanke on Friday departed the country from Lagos for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifiers aboard AT 554 Royal Air Marco flight.
The players, before their departure at 5.30 a.m., thanked the President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Enitan-Oshodi, for facilitating their participation in the YOG competition.
The qualifiers will serve off on April 16 and end on April 17 in Tunis, Tunisia.
Enitan-Oshodi provided the funds needed for the players’ participation in the qualifiers.
It will be recalled that Nigeria is not taking part in the ongoing Africa Junior Championships in Tunis due to paucity of funds as explained by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Solanke and Oribamise will attempt securing slots at next year’s YOG holding in Argentina.
Since Ojo Onaolapo became the first Nigerian table tennis player to feature in the YOG in 2010, no Nigerian has made it to the Games.
The qualifiers provide another opportunity for Nigerian players to rub shoulders with the world’s best at YOG in 2018.
The duo was accomplished by Dotun Omoniyi, who has been with the team in their Lagos camp for over two weeks.
Oribamise said that she’s excited with the news that all hopes about their participation was not lost eventually, adding that they were going on the trip with gladdened hearts.
“I am so happy that eventually we are going to Tunisia, God bless our federation’s president for coming to our rescue.
“I just want to say a very big thank you to him for his concern and love for the whole table tennis family.
“I promise to give the qualifiers my very best and fight to clinch a slot,’’ she said.
Solanke also thanked Enitan-Oshodi for the gesture and promised not to let him down in Tunis.
He said that participating in the qualifiers meant a whole lot to him and that he would make it a remarkable one.
“I am glad that we are participating and I give the credit to our federation’s president, he came to our rescue and I appreciate it so much.
“I promise not to let him down and fight very hard in Tunis for a slot at the 2018 Argentina World Youth Olympic Games,’’ he said.
Enitan-Oshodi told NAN that the decision to facilitate the trip for the team was borne out of the need to encourage the players considering their hard work in the last two weeks.
“I think the idea to ensure that the players compete at YOG qualifiers was based on the fact that they have worked hard in the last two weeks in readiness for the ITTF African Junior Championships.
“When they could not make the trip, it is good not to allow their dream to die. These players have the potential to be the best in Africa.
“The YOG qualifiers will give them the opportunity to take a shot at qualifying for YOG and we hope they can justify their presence in Tunis,’’ Enitan-Oshodi said.