by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Notably on Thursday 22nd March, Khalil Sta topped his Cadet Boys’ Singles group and thus reserved his place in the main draw; alas for Mohamed Amine Sta, in the Junior Boys’ Singles event it was third place but it was a rather daunting task. The group included India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar the top seed.
“I saw all the pictures of my father when he won several medals as a national champion in Tunisia. Also I noticed that he travelled a lot playing table tennis and so we decided to convince him to let us play. My brother and I did not really start early like our colleagues, I was 10 while he was eight when we started. So our father became our coach and he started teaching us the basics of the sport. We fell in love with the sport particularly the excitement that table tennis gives. We wanted to achieve what he has achieved, particularly to play at the Olympic Games. We were also fascinated with the idea of travelling.” Mohamed Amine Sta.
A journey that started six years ago has earned Mohamed Amine and Khalil places in the Tunisian junior national team.
“After I retired from playing, I became the National Coach of Tunisia and in my house I hung my picture with some of the medals I had won as a player; when my children saw it they said they wanted to be winning medals like me. I actually warned them that it was not going to be an easy task but they insisted that they are ready to go through it.” Mourad Sta
Now Mohamed Amine is among the top four Under 18 age group players while Khalil was part of the Tunisian team that won bronze at the 2017 African Junior and Cadet Championship.
“When we started I told them that as a coach I will be hard on them, they used to tell me not to be too hard on them. I must also admit that it was a bit difficult to be a father and a coach. Apart from playing table tennis, they take their studies seriously as they are among the best in their schools; this motivated me to teach them the basics of table tennis,” Mourad Sta
Notably there is one particular trait of their father that they have followed.
“I had long hair when I was playing and they also have the same long hair; they decided use a head band which for me is their own unique style. I hope I can continue to train them to become what they desire. I had made it known to them that it is not an easy road to the top.” Mourad Sta
In the Cadet Boys’ Singles event as a result of finishing in top place in his group, Khalil Sta gained a direct entry to round two; he plays the winner of the contest between his colleague Habib Ameur and China’s Li Yaoqin.