by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF African Table Tennis Federation Press Officer
Jo-Anne Johnson was delighted to watch Lekeasha compete in the splendid surroundings of the Grand West Casino and Entertainment World,
Similar to many mothers, she wanted her daughter to have exercise and take part in healthy past time that would steer her away from the crime ridden area in which she lives.
“When she started the sport eight years ago, I just wanted her to take active part in an activity that would divert her attention from the vices in the area where we live in Cape Town. It was a bit hard to provide all she needed; I was jobless when she started. I always reminded her to be humble and to be close to God”, Jo-Anne Johnson
Somewhat reserved by nature, table tennis has enabled Lekeasha, who is one of five children in the Johnson family, to grow in confidence.
Mother, once unemployed, now works at the Woolworths shop in Cape Town and although she is delighted to watch her daughter play table tennis, she is well aware that education must be a priority.
Notably Lekeasha has received a five year scholarship to attend the Western Cape Sports School, it is a school with a high reputation and one which Jo-Anne Johnson never believed her daughter would attend; the fees being beyond the family budget.
“The first time I was told Lekeasha would be part of the junior national team, I was so excited that my daughter could be fortunate to put on the national colours of South Africa; this was joy for my entire family. Two years ago, she was given a five year scholarship to attend the Western Cape Sports School in Cape Town, for me this is one of the best schools in South Africa, it was a school I did not think I could afford; through table tennis she can attend the best school without me struggling to pay the fees”, Jo-Anne Johnson.
Table tennis has undoubtedly had a major impact on the life of Lekeasha Johnson; she has been able to travel and has learned the values of life through the discipline of sport.
Also a member of the South African Girls’ Team but only competing in the individual events is Danica Schlome.
Resident in Johannesburg, Mark Schlome, father, is a financial executive; mother, Andrea, is a teacher. Both believe strongly that parents should support their children in whatever venture they decide to follow.
“It was my wife who promoted the idea of my daughter playing sport, table tennis in particular. She enjoys table tennis and we ensure that she receives all she needs; we support her in whatever she needs. We provide the facilities for her at home”, Mark Schlome
Andrea Schlome, understandably being a teacher, makes sure that Danica balances education with table tennis; notably at school she is excelling.
“We will keep on supporting her as long as she still wants to continue playing and we are very happy about her involvement in the national team”, Andrea Schlome
Also, she is the only white skinned player in the team. It is fact which her parents believe is a valuable part of her upbringing. It helps develop a person who has understanding and will grow to become a valuable member of society.
Different home backgrounds but for Lekeasha Johnson and Danica Schlome, there is a common bond, one which is helping each grow into a better person; it is the sport of table tennis.