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Kenya junior TT team lands major development invite to train in Britain

Last updated 2 months ago | By Ben Ahenda

Bilal Arshad in action during Kisumu Table Tennis Open 2019 at Jalaram Academy. [Washington Onyango,Standard]

The National Junior Team has earned a three-week training stint in United Kingdom in March as part of a development partnership from the two table tennis bodies.

A strong Under-12 team comprising of 14 (seven boys and seven girls) will be selected for the trip.

The tour, which was brokered by Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) President Andrew Mudibo with England Table Tennis(TTE) is not only part of the ‘Road to 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games’ but also a precursor to Paris 2024 Olympics where the country hopes to qualify budding players.

Kenya's Brian Mutua during the International Table Tennis Federation Africa Cup at Kasarani Gymnasium, March 1, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya Table Tennis President Andrew Mudibo said players will be selected from various centres across the country.

He said the selection process will be done from 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, “Let The Girls Play” Initiative is tailored at empowering girls from less privileged families to realize their ping-pong dream and the football famous MYSA passes the test.

During their sojourn in Britain, the Kenyan juniors will be tutored by some of the best coaches who will accompany the team to tournaments across the European country.

KTTA is supposed to cater for internal travel costs as well as roundtrip airfare to England while TTE will take care of the training program.

TTE Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe on her part said, "We are glad to partner with KTTA in the development of this amazing sport of table tennis. Needless to say, the 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 added: "The development partnership couldn't have come at an opportune time when KTTA is kick-starting long term plans to help young players attain qualification for the Olympics. 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."

TTE has over the years committed to supporting KTTA's Tucheze Tebo (Loosely translated in Kiswahili for Let's Play TT) initiative after holding a Development and Administration Workshop at Goan Institute in Pangani, Nairobi in 2015

Mudibo, nevertheless, hinted that the success of the Britain tour is at the discretion of the esteemed Ministries of Sports and Education.

He explained: "We are desirous to having the juniors travel with their teachers so as they can regain lost ground academic wise. Once we have the blessing of the two Ministries regarding COVID-19, then we will figure out our next course of action."

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