By Comfort Oseghale
An employee of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Jeremiah Ikoko, has emerged the winner of the 6th Ships & Ports Table Tennis Championship.
The event, which holds annually and was sponsored by Dangote Ports Operations and the Nigerian Shippers Council, took place at the Apapa Club in Lagos on Saturday.
Declaring the event open, the Chief Executive Officer of Ships & Ports, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said the championship was instituted to promote healthy interaction among maritime industry workers.
He said to ensure high standard and fairness, the tournament was being officiated by certified umpires drawn from the Table Tennis Umpires Association of Nigeria.
Sixty participants drawn from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), Lagos Channel Management (LCM), Dangote Port Operations, Bollore Shipping, ENL Consortium and the Maritime Microfinance Bank (MMFB), among others, took part in the championship.
Two employees of the NPA; Kehinde Borokini, a four-time winner of the championship and Phillip Amebe; Jeremiah Ikoko of NIMASA and Sunday Otaru, a shipping manager with Bolore and also the defending champion, beat all other contestants to qualify for the semi-final stage.
For the third place, Otaru played against Borokini and won a prize of N30,000 after defeating her. Ikoko emerged winner after a hotly contested match with Amebe, winning the cash prize of N100,000. Amebe received N50,000 for taking the second spot.
Elated at his success, Ikoko was full of praises for the organizers of the event.
He said, “I appreciate Ships & Ports for taking the pains to organize this event; it is a welcome development. This is the second time I am participating. Last year the players were fewer; we were not up to 30. This year, more people turned up.
“The standard of play has also improved. I believe this championship will go further in the next two years. I am convinced more people from NIMASA will participate for next year’s event.”
While encouraging more participation in the championship, Otaru also encouraged the organizers to expand the scope of the competition.
He said, “This championship is a good gesture which we all appreciate. My employers appreciate sports; they believe it encourages mental alertness. I saw it in the paper for the first time last year and was encouraged by a colleague to participate. Surprisingly, I won the cash prize.
“Ships & Ports is doing a great job; the fact that they increased the prize money is responsible for the large turnout. If it continues like this, we would need bigger space. They would have to start thinking in that direction,” he said.
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