The existing development partnership between Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) and Table Tennis England (TTE) has opened a lockdown door for 14 Kenyan boys and girls to train in England by March 2021 for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is set to officially begin on 28 July and to end on 8 August at Alexander Stadium, though dates are subject to change. The Alexander Stadium is in progress and has been remodeled with steelwork forming an eye-catching new West Stand, which is taking shape in recent weeks already.
And Ian Reid, Birmingham 2022 Chief Executive Officer, has this to say:
“I am truly impressed with the progress that has been made on this project this year. Despite the challenge of the pandemic, it is on track and on a budget (£72.4million) and the new stadium is really starting to take shape.”
As part of the Birmingham planning, table tennis as well as other indoor games such as boxing, weightlifting including para powerlifting, freestyle wrestling, and judo will be hosted in one of the largest halls.
The inclusivity of the event covers over 70 nations in the world to participate in different games, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Under 12 Kenyan tennis players to make history on a global stage putting their names on the map.
The youngsters will be trained intensively by some of the best coaches for 3 weeks during the sojourn in the UK and will be accompanied to tournaments across England. However, the trip to England and internal travel costs will be sponsored by KTTA, while TTE will handle the training program.
According to KTTA’s President, Andrew Mudibo, the development partnership is coming at the right time when a long-term goal has been structured to help young players attain qualification for the Olympics, Paris 2024. “For us, it’s a grand opportunity to grow junior structures to acceptable levels. Development is of paramount essence and must start from junior level, otherwise the sport won’t flourish. Table tennis is akin to gymnastics where talent thrives in young people.”
The Chief Executive of TTE, Sara Sutcliffe expressed her gratitude and shared her thoughts about possible outcomes of the partnership:
“We are glad to partner with KTTA in the development of this amazing sport of table tennis. Needless to say, sport has no boundaries, as we are one family. Discussions are ongoing between us and the KTTA on how best we can help nurture talent in Kenya. We are overly optimistic that the partnership will come to fruition and enable them (Kenya) feature prominently in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 and also use the opportunity as a springboard for the Paris Olympics in 2024.”
Mudibo expounded that the selection process will factor in schools, clubs, and the now vibrant “Let The Girls Play” program at the famous Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) which was introduced in 2015 as part of the “Tucheze Tebo” Initiative.
For starters, “Tucheze Tebo” Initiative is tailored at empowering girls from less privileged families to realize their ping-pong dream and MYSA passes the test.
In as much as there’s a great opportunity for Kenya and Africa as a whole, Mudibo hinted that the success of this program lies with the Ministry of Sports, and Education as they intend to travel along with school teachers to continue to cover academic setbacks for the children due to the challenges posed by Covid19 pandemic.
This kinds of development points does not just point to the growing need for the inclusiveness of Africans in various advancement trends across the world but also the recognition of the need to groom African youngsters for competitive advantage on the global playing field. Kenya and few other African countries are setting that pace.
By Elijah Christopher,