20 Jan 2017

Athletics, for over a decade, has always dominated Kenya’s annual Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards; table tennis has never appeared on the nomination list.

On Thursday 19th January, at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, the drought came to an end; 17 year old Allan Singar became the first table tennis player to be listed in the prestigious honours.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer

The student from Great Rift’s Menengai High School in Nakuru, the fourth largest city in Kenya, won the Outstanding Sports Schools Boys award.

Pertinently, the success is a result of the Tucheze Tebo (Swahili for Let’s Play Table Tennis) initiative launched by the Kenya Table Tennis Association in November 2015.

A milestone success and Samson Ateka, the Media Officer of Kenya Table Tennis Association has been spreading the good news far and wide.

“When the Kenya Table Tennis Association officials launched Tucheze Tebo in November 2015, with the desirable objective to whip up the enthusiasm of young budding talent across the country, the association was confident that the initiative would go places and considerably gain momentum at national level. Fourteen months on, a country renowned for its middle and long distance runners, is gradually embracing the Tucheze Tebo initiative that is geared towards turning its ping pong fortunes around. Allan Singar has entered his name into the annals of Kenyan sport”, Samson Ateka

Allan Singar is guided by George Kiringe, the coach for Team Nakuru; the team is competes in the Kenya National League and attended the training camp led by Nigeria’s Segun Toriola last December.

Tough matches and testing times but Allan Singar is benefitting from the experience.

“It’s been such a magnificent few weeks in my table tennis career from late December, after meeting the legendary Segun Toriola in the Kenya Table Tennis Association organised coaching clinic in Nairobi. Three weeks on, I have laid my hands on one of the most significant trophies for schools. Standards have now been set; only the sky is the limit for the sport of table tennis in Kenya. On my league debut, we won our match against Nyeri’s Glory Outreach Assembly. I lost my second match but picked myself up to win against Andre Muchika; so exciting was my debut at national level. I thank the Kenya Table Tennis Association for helping me realize my potential in the game” Allan Singar

Notably, Allan Singar, from a rural area, attracted attention when last year he won the Kenya National Schools Boys’ Singles title and also competed in the 2016 East Africa Games in Eldoret, the principal city in western Kenya.

Slowly but surely, he is becoming a national figure.

“The award that Allan Singar has won shows that we have finally started to move in the right direction in the development of table tennis not only in Kenya but also the East Africa region. In the 13 years of the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards, table tennis has never been recognized; with Allan Singar winning the award, it is a start of greater things to come for the sport. As an association, we have been able to achieve this in two years and once our structures are properly set up and running, then we should see more of our players winning awards and being recognized not just in Kenya but internationally. Allan Singar is still in school and we shall be exposing him as part of the junior team so that with the exposure his level can go up and most importantly, he will now be a role model for the rest of the junior players. The Spirit of playing table tennis in all homes and places in Kenya is paying off and we will continue”, Andrew Mudibo

Now, after dominating at national and regional levels, Allan Singar is hoping to become the number one male table tennis star in Kenya after sitting his secondary school examinations in October this year.

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