Sunday, 9 May 2021

How Canaan Table Tennis Club produced Nigeria's best four - Orok Duke


Nigeria's best four part of the team that represented the country in India and won the bronze medal of the competition.

Former Chairman of Cross River State Sports Commission, Chief Orok Duke has said that the current best four table tennis players in Nigeria are product of Canaan Table Tennis Club Ltd of Calabar. 

Duke made this known in a statement while while expressing gratitude to God and all those who had made it possible to build the Tennis Club from scratch and raising super stars from nothing. He chronologically told the story of Canaan Tennis Club stating that it was time to move on to the next level.

Training hall of Canaan Tennis Club

According to the former lawmaker, the brand "Canaan Table Tennis Club" which was created over 30 years ago in 1987 after the separation of Akwa Ibom state from Cross River State with the tacit support of the last two preceding CRS governors and Governor Ben Ayade, Table Tennis has turned out to be number one Sport in setting the pace and hauling medals for Cross River State, amongst over 34 other Sports.

Rt. Hon. Orok Duke and some members of the team 

He went ahead, to inform that "Over the years, Canaan Table Tennis Club Ltd, with I, as the Chairman, has become an incubator for four generations of players (both boys and girls). We now have Canaan Kings and Queens and now boasts of having the First Four Female Players in Nigeria, viz; Offiong Edem, Funke Oshonaike, Cecilia Otu and Janet Effiom."

"However, Offiong Edem is in Spain; Funke Oshonaike in Germany; Cecilia Otu, in Italy and Janet Effiom, in Portugal. All availing themselves of more modern techniques and equipment in these various countries, to hone and maximise their skills and talents for the Club and State. Offiong and Funke, are representing Cross River/Nigeria/Africa, in the upcoming Olympics, taking place in Tokyo, Japan." Duke added.

Recounting some of his personal efforts in recent times to see that the team doesn't go extinct, Duke said "The National Sports Festival 'Edo 2020' came and without any recourse to the Club, the CRS Female Table Tennis Team was dropped from the CRS Contingent(for reasons unkown to the Team). But I had to intervene. I secured hotel accommodation in Benin(out of the Games Village), hired a Sienna Bus for the team and paid up all their feeding and upkeep allowances; and procured the requisite bats and balls for them. With the prodding of the CRS Deputy Governor,The CRS Director of Sports and the Chairman,CRSSC; we were able to secure the needed Clearance and accreditation for the female team.

We had our image and integrity to protect and project. It is heartwarming that , without our key female players(on National duties), the next generation of Canaan Queens; Vivian Oku, Idore yin Udoaka and Ofonime Ebong led by Coach Fidelis Ititim, came third,out of 36 states(Bronze medals).

Orok Duke (middle) flanged by Cecilia and her coach when she emerged as Nigeria's female champion after beating Fatima 4:0 in Lagos in 2017 

Fast forward to the Aso Table Tennis Championships that ended on, 8/5/2021. I sponsored a team made up of: Mini Cadets, Cadets, Junior Players and senior players all in the male and female categories. It is not the millions of naira expended to shore up our record, image, reputation and integrity that we are only concerned about, but the fulfilment of the hopes and dreams of these remaining three generations of youthful players, but also, to compensate and justify their efforts over the months and years." Duke narrated.

Rt. Hon. Orok Duke informed that one of one of the junior player, Idorenyin was crowned the National Cadet Champion and Vivian Oku, though a junior player, won a Bronze medal in the Senior Women Category. Vivian is currently Nigeria's N0.3 National Player. 

They both also stand to join the Other Olympic bound athletes in the training camp. 

Way forward and need to support the club

On the way forward, Chief Orok Duke said the club needs sponsorship from the state government, multinationals and individuals. He said sports development shouldn't be left in the hands of government alone but a collective responsibility.

He said the team will be needing a minimum of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000,000) to participate in the forthcoming Nigerian Table Tennis Federation National Championship slated for 16 - 22nd of May,2021 in Lagos.

Duke, who is confident that the team which is expected to comprise of; Cadets, Junior, Senior players(male and female) will return with medals called for assistance from willing sport lovers.

"Those who love us,should come over to Macedonia and help us...See you all in Lagos, from 16th of May 2021 as we battle to bring home more Laurels/ Trophies to the Glory and Honour of Cross River State and Nigeria." He said.

Nigeria's best four represented the country in Morocco winning the silver medal of the competition.