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In Lagos Five-time Asoju-Oba table tennis tourney winner advises players on discipline

Dele, fondly called “Coach Malawi’’ by his fans said that many players lacked the discipline that would enable them to excel.

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Five-time Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championships gold medalist, Olasumbo Dele, on Wednesday advised players to be disciplined to make a career in the sport.

Dele, fondly called “Coach Malawi’’ by his fans, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that many players lacked the discipline that would enable them to excel.

NAN reports that Dele won the championships consecutively in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and was dethroned in 1981 to become runner-up.

“I must say that things have changed from what it was when I was a player. In our playing days, we had manners."

“We didn’t need anyone to tell us what to do and what not to do. We were committed players and it showed in our performances."

“It was only a few players among the current Nigerian players are like what we used to be. Imagine a player being looked for when it’s his or her turn to play."

“Every player needs to be disciplined, discipline to me is a personal decision and it comes from within. I don’t believe in forced discipline because it won’t yield the desired results,’’ he said.

The former Head Coach, Lagos State Table Tennis Association (LSTTA), said that it was very important for players to have a schedule or programme for themselves.

“To do well in table tennis goes beyond just having the skills but having a developmental programme to fully maximise the skills."

“Each player must have training programme for himself and must be faithful to it. Table tennis keeps on evolving and one can’t afford to be stagnant."

“Table tennis requires constant training and practice so as to always remain relevant,’’ he said.

The ex-player commended the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation board led by Wahid Enitan-Oshodi for its efforts in repositioning the game and exposing players.

“The board is doing a good job I must say, things have changed since its inception. I want the players to corporate with the board members so as to serve them better,’’ Dele said.

Coach Malawi is reported to have discovered Nigeria’s international and Africa’s foremost female player, Funke Oshonaike when she was eight-year-old and playing for her primary school in Somolu, Bariga.

He also discovered Segun Toriola who is also Africa’s number one player in the male category and the only African who has reached the quarter-finals of Olympic Games.

“Funke has good character, discipline and is ready to learn everything you put before her."

“As for Toriola, who is from Ogun State, he had similar qualities of someone who was ready to learn on the trade."

“But the qualities these two players have are lacking in some of the youngsters,’’ he said.

“At times when you notice something special in any of the young table tennis players and you try to offer assistance, they look down on you,’’ Dele lamented.

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