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JOHN PETERS: Nigeria’s longest serving table tennis umpire honoured by Federation

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The African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) on Thursday acknowledged the immense contribution of Nigeria’s John Peters for his four decades service to table tennis.

At the grand finale of the table tennis event at 12th African Games in Rabat, Morocco, Peters was honoured by the President of ATTF, Khaled El-Salhy.

73-year-old Peters, who is attending his seventh African Games in Morocco, was described as a role model to upcoming umpires in the continent with his conduct and composure on table.

“I want to commend Peters for his meritorious service to table tennis,” said ATTF boss.

“For more than forty years, Peters has been around.

“Despite his age, he is still relevant in scheme of things in Africa and I must commend him and I hope other young umpire will take a cue from him.”

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Peters, a Statistics graduate of Nigeria’s premier tertiary institution, the University of Ibadan (UI), launched his foray into umpiring in 1973 as part of the technical team at the maiden African Games in Lagos, Nigeria.

“I could remember vividly that my first contact with table tennis was in 1958 when I saw my schoolmates using our teacher’s table to play the game,” the legend said.

“I quickly fell in love with the sport. Soon, I started beating everybody in my class. Unfortunately, we never had any organised tournament.”

After becoming a national umpire, Peters soon made the cut as one of the umpires for the maiden 1973 African Games in Lagos. That games on home soil marked his international foray.

He added: “I made my international debut as an umpire in 1973 and I have been officiating table tennis since then. I must admit that table tennis has taken me around the whole world. Even where I cannot afford to go, table tennis has opened the doors for me to go. So for me, table tennis is life and that is why I cannot stop my romance with the sport.”

After his 1973 umpire debut, Peters officiated at Nairobi 1987, Abuja 2003, Algiers 2007, Maputo 2011, Congo Brazzaville 2015 and now Rabat 2019.

He also handled matches at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Glasgow, and was also at Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

The only male Nigerian blue badge umpire says he is not ready to quit the sport.

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