Former Ghanaian national table tennis champion, Felix Lartey believes having the Nigeria Open has given players from Africa the chance to test might with their European counterparts in higher level.
The 26-year-old Lartey is an integral member of the Ghanaian team to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia and has also featured for the West African nation in several continental tournaments including the African Games, but the Ghanaian star has described the annual ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open has a good platform for exposure for African players.
“I have featured in three editions of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open and I can tell you that the tournament can rival any tournament in Europe in terms of organization and promotion. For us in Africa, we are proud to have such tournament that gives us the opportunity to play against some of the top European players. Nigeria and Lagos specifically is Africa’s home of table tennis because the fans understand the sport and this prompted them to support the players regardless of the nationality of such player. I enjoy every moment I spend playing in Lagos,” he said.
Having made it to the round of 32 in two previous editions, the Ghana Immigration Service officer hopes to become the first Ghanaian player to make it to the quarterfinal of an ITTF-title tournament having exited early in previous editions. “Nigeria Open has given me the chance to assess myself as a player and I will be happy to make it to the quarterfinal this year as the first Ghanaian to make it to the last eight of an ITTF-title tournament. Aside from the quality of organization and promotion Nigeria Open has, it has given players like me the opportunity to improve my game,” he added.
Having attended several tournaments in Africa, Felix Lartey admitted that Nigeria Open is a good advertisement for Africa. “I can categorically say that Nigeria Open is far better than any tournament in Africa because the quality of organization and players that take part in the competition attest to the fact that it has become of the cherished tournaments in Africa.
Apart from the organization, Felix Lartey believes the talents that abound in Nigeria have made some African players to visit the West African nation in order to improve themselves in the sport. “Nigeria has talented players and most times some of us visit Nigeria to train with some of these unknown players and the atmosphere at the venue of the Nigeria Open is another motivation for any player because it is always electrifying playing at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall with the continuous support from the Lagos fans,” he added.