25 Jul 2017

Initiated by the University of Tsukuba in Japan and the Kenya Table Tennis Association in liaison with the Mathare Youth and Sport Association (MYSA); the “Let the Girls Play” project commenced in 2015.

Representatives from the three organisations met recently at the MYSA headquarters in Mathare, Nairobi, on Thursday 13th July, where they saw the young players in action.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Members of the visiting group included Lilamani de Soysa, Director International Relations, Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies and Shin Miura, the President of the San-Ei Corporation whose tables were used at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“A table tennis table can have many lives. For example it can be used to support the making of a paper model of the San-Ei table that was used at the Rio Olympics. The girls joined Shin Miura in the construction of the paper model.” Lilamani de Soysa.

Table tennis was also highlighted at the Nanairo Ekiden event, staged on Sunday 16th July at International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Under 18 World Athletics Championships, as part of the disability awareness education programme.

One such initiative is Takkyu Volley, a sport invented in Japan, designed for those with severe disabilities. A maximum of 12 players may compete, able bodied and disabled together, the game being played by rolling the ball, with wood blocks, under the net.

Most notably when there was free time at the World Athletics Championships, the task was find a surface of any size and play table tennis.

A well-worn phrase but true: every table is a table tennis table.

 Nairobi: Let the Girls play

Photos: courtesy of Lilamani de Soysa

High Performance and Development Mathare Youth and Sport Association