by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Born in Algeria, Hiba Feredj moved to live England when six years old, she started to play table tennis when 12 years of age at London Academy in Edgware; when 15 years old she pledged allegiance to the country of her birth.
Prior to departing for Riva del Garda, she spoke to Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer
“For this year’s World Junior Championships, I have been training hard at my club in London, working on both physical and mental aspects, with my coach Bhavin Savjani. I feel more prepared and focused on my game than I was last year and I’m ready to give my best. I don’t have a specific aim for Italy; my strategy is to focus on one game at a time, taking it point by point.
To prepare for the World Junior Championships, I have been doing hours of multi-ball training weekly, working on my speed and accuracy. Also, I have been improving and sharpening up my service, service return and strokes.
In my opinion, African lack of success in World Junior Championships can be attributed to the lower quality of training compared to other continents. Also, there is a lower standard of equipment and practice partners in Africa, as opposed to the high-level requirements provided in the other continents.
I cannot make a judgement on other teams’ goals or expectations but I hope that my country, Algeria, come home with a favourable outcome, we have been working hard to prepare for the World Juniors.
I aim to take part in the Olympic Games in the future and continue to represent my country. Apart from building my career in table tennis, I do some coaching and private work with primary school children. Also, I am an assistant to my coach in England and am a role model for the younger players in my club. I spend most of my time training so going out with my friends is not on my schedule; on free days, I like to rest and recover for the following training session.
Last year, I was having trouble travelling and training, while simultaneously supporting my academic studies; this year, I have finished my studies at the London Academy sixth form, from which I have gained a level three diploma in engineering at A-level with a merit grade.
Currently I am training full time at London Academy; I am also working at the Academy, alongside my coach, Bhavin. As part of my assistant coach position, I conduct training sessions for young students who are members at the academy.
After the World Championships and African championships, not much has changed in Algeria. Personally, I think that table tennis in Africa is becoming more popular due to the growing successes of Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna. In terms of standard, the training, compared to Europe and Asia, is not the best but it does attain to my practical needs.
Someday, I hope to be a key influence, like Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna, in promoting the popularity of Africa in table tennis.”