by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
Trained by his father, Jialj Hireez, a former table tennis star, Hireez Abdulsalam love to follow the footstep of his idol – Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna.
“When I saw my father playing, I wanted to emulate him and at three I started playing table tennis. My first love was football, but an injury stopped me from the sport because my father warned me not to play football again as I couldn’t cope with more injuries. So I decided to embrace table tennis that I now love to play it every day,” the teenager said.
Despite the war ravaging Tripoli, where he is based, the little Hireez was not deterred by this development as he wants to pursue his dream of becoming the first table tennis champion from Libya.
“Every time we are training, the noise from the bombing most of the time scared us but for me I will continue to train in order to achieve my dream,” he said.
An excited Hireez Abdulsalam was not intimidated by the pedigree of most of his opponents in Tunis and he showed his class with his enterprising movement on the table.
The lively young Libyan never hides his dream, adding that if Quadri Aruna can do it nothing stops him from taking a cue from the Nigerian.
“I’ve watched Quadri Aruna a lot on YouTube and I know I can be greater than him if I work hard. I also like watching Saka Suraju of Congo Brazzaville. They are my role models in table tennis because they are fantastic players who give most Africans hope that anything is possible with hard work. I will one day love to meet Quadri Aruna because I am fond of him. He is great player who plays with a lot of confidence and determination against any player in the world,” Hireez Abdulsalam.