No fewer than 103 primary and secondary schools in Cross River State are participating in the on-going 2017 Calabar Open Table Tennis tournament.
The 3- day tournament holding at the prestigious Hope Waddel Training Institute sports hall in Calabar is being sponsored by sports-loving Royal International Farms and Estates Ltd, Triple Star Printing Press Ltd and First Royal Micro Finance Bank Ltd, which last week, had sponsored a one week 1st Calabar Open Taekwando Championship.
The tournament officially kicked off last Wednesday when the chairman of Cross River Sports Council, Orok Duke and representative of the state commissioner for sports, who praised commitment of the sponsors, declared it open.
As part of opening ceremony, an exhibition match was staged between two young national champions, Charles Etim of Government Secondary Barracks Road, and Orok Etim of Government Secondary School Akim, who had won gold medals in National school sports meets of Port Harcourt 2013, Ogun 2014 and Benue 2015.
Speaking, Duke said the prize money for the tournament was N200,000 to be shared to first, second, third and fourth place winners in different categories of the Table Tennis players.
He assured that the winners would go on to represent the state at the upcoming South-South zonal Championship.
According to him, school children in the state have dominated the game in the country for 18 years, adding that the essence the Royal International Farms and Estates Ltd is bankrolling the event is to discover new talents that would succeed the likes of Offiong Edem and Cecilia Ot-Akpan who are already African champions.
Usen Umoh who is general manager of Royal International Farms and Estates Ltd said their deep involvement in sports is to give back to the society and empower the youths in order to help discourage them from crimes.
Before the tournament commenced, the sponsors had donated complete set of one Joola 5000 table tennis board, 8 packs of. Das table tennis balls, two pairs table tennis rubber and said the private firms were united to popularize table tennis in the state.