Present at the 1969 World Championships in Munich, West Germany, the first Nigerian player to compete in the global event; Bilikisu Bola Popoola was a welcome guest on Thursday 10th August at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos.
Furthermore, in the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, the 75 year old stole the show.
It was not by once again playing table tennis that she attracted the attention, it was her traditional dance that delighted the fans.
After years of competing in various continental and global tournaments, Bilikisu Bola Popoola became the first female coach of the Nigeria national team; she concluded the role some two decades ago.
“I am so happy that I am seeing this in my lifetime because this was what it used to be in former days; this Nigeria Open has again brought Nigeria to the global map and put some of our players among the best in the world. We used to play for fun as we never made the kind of money players are making nowadays.” Bilikisu Bola Popoola
Undoubtedly, Bilikisu Bola Popoola was delighted to present at the tournament; the standard set in presentation and level of play was an eye-opener.
“The joy for me is that Nigeria is hosting players from more than 20 countries just like it used to be in former days. It is very encouraging and I urge the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation to keep up the momentum and ensure that they sustain the staging of the competition. I am so happy with what Mr Wahid Enitan Oshodi has done with this competition.” Bilikisu Bola Popoola
Great credit must go to Wahid Enitan Oshodi, there is no doubt that the tournament is becoming highly respected on the international calendar.