by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
However, the teenagers were eager to have their siblings in the team and they went to work with their sister and brother. To their satisfaction, Yukail Naidoo has his 13-year-old sister, Kiara making the team for the 2017 ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships while Keshmika Sivnarain also had her 15-year-old brother making the cut this year.
Aside the Egyptian twins, Mariam and Marwa Alhodaby who were sibling in the same team, Naidoo and Sivnarain belong to the same club – Noyolo Table Tennis Academy in Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa and they are a shining example at this year’s tournament in Tunis.
As the most experienced among the siblings, Keshmika Sivnarain – a grade 11 student of Raisthorpe Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg was excited having her sibling in the team.
“I feel very proud having my brother in the team because that was a vision we set for ourselves when we started table tennis. My brother narrowly missed out last year and I had to show him what it takes to wear the national colours. We both trained under the same coach – Simean Gologolo, who is also a national coach at the same club. When I started my brother used to watch me play but the coach invited him to join me and since then, we have been training together. When he missed the team last year, I had to motivate him to continue to work hard and we trained 16 hours a week to ensure that we both made the team”, Keshmika Sivnarain.
For Kivesh Sivnarain, wearing the colours of South Africa for the first time is a dream comes true.
“I feel honoured to represent South Africa in an international competition. I think watching the last World Junior Championship held in Cape Town fired me on to work hard in order to make the team. I think my sister really motivated me a lot because she pushed me a lot in training. I love table tennis and I know I can still achieve more in the sport,” the grade 10 student of Raisthorpe Secondary School Kivesh Sivnarain said.
For 13-year-old Kiara Naidoo being part of the team to Tunis is an eye-opener for her.
“I am so excited coming to Tunis being my first international competition. It is indeed an honour for me putting on the colours of my country and I hope to keep wearing it. My brother really inspired and motivated me on my way to being part of the team. I’m looking forward to learning new skills from other players in the competition,” the grade eight student of Pietermaritzburg Girls High School Kiara Naidoo admitted.
Happy to have his sister in the same team, Yukail Naidoo said training together and having the same dream has fired them up to work their way into the team.
“I am aware that to remain a part of the team, you must redouble your efforts as others are also working hard. After I made my international debut in 2016, I went back home and worked hard with my sister. We trained well especially for this tournament in order for us to make the final list. I am happy that our efforts were not in vain. I also think my sister also pushed me to continue to work hard,” the grade nine student of Maritzburg College Yukail Naidoo said.