The Africa Badminton Championships return to Nigeria after nineteen years and Port Harcourt will be host when the top players from around the continent converge to stake claims for the number one prize.
At a press conference in Port Harcourt, the President of the Badminton Fédération of Nigeria Francis Orbih expressed the country’s readiness to host Africa.
“We intend to host to win, hence the serious preparations to achieve this,” Orbih said.
“We are privileged to be the hosts of this edition as it serves as the first qualifiers for the Olympics next year. We are really excited about the quality of countries that have registered to participate. These teams from some of the countries represent some of the best players on the continent,” Orbih said.
How Nigeria tried and failed
The first time Nigeria tried to host Africa in Badminton was 1996 when Lagos applied for hosting rights but failed.
In 2000, it was the turn of Bauchi but Nigeria failed again. Abuja tried in 2008 yet did not get it.
Francis Orbih says they want to host and win as that help the ranking of the country.
“When we came on-board as a federation, Nigeria was No 6 in Africa but as we speak to you, Nigeria is no 2.
“The only country standing between us and reclaiming the pole position in Africa is Mauritius.
“Currently, Mauritius is no 1 in Africa as they parade the No 1 male player (singles) Georges Paul and No 1 female player Kate Foo June,” he added.
Eighteen of the best in Port Harcourt
The biggest badminton championship on the continent sees Port Harcourt, Nigeria welcome 18 African countries for the All African Badminton championships at the Alfred Diete Spiff centre (civic centre), Moscow road Port Harcourt with six courts ready for use at the venue.
With this year’s edition serving as an Olympic qualifier as declared by the Badminton World Federation and the first qualifier for next year’s Olympic games, the flagship event of badminton in Africa will run from April 22 to April 28, 2019.
Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Congo, Congo DRC, Eritea, Egypt, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Seychelles, Uganda, Mauritius, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa,Togo, Nigeria are the eighteen countries taking part in this edition.
Nigeria ready to bite
The host country, Nigeria will parade a total of 18 players (9 male and 9 female).
In the men and women singles, Nigeria’s Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Dorcas Adesokan are rated second in Africa respectively, same as the mixed doubles where Nigeria is also rated second.
Only in the men’s double that the pair of Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin olofuwa are rated no 1 in Africa.
Francis Orbih acknowledged that the first Rivers National Badminton championship last year was a test run for this year’s African championship.