by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
They have become the toast of the media owing to the presence of 10-year-old Fathimath Dheema Ali.
Meanwhile, for Mueena Mohamed, playing on the global stage is a motivation in itself for the team.
“Playing at the World Championship is the dream of every athlete and since my debut at the 2003 edition in France, I have always featured in the tournament; this for me has always been a moment I will forever cherish. Apart from the excitement that players derive, meeting some of the top players in the world in a single place is another moment I will not want to forget in a hurry.” Mueena Mohamed
Importantly, Mueena Mohamed believes lining up alongside 10 year old Fathimath Dheema Ali and 14 year old Aishath Rafa Nazim has motivated her to remain in the team.
“I love table tennis and I still want to play more for the team. I believe these young players are inspiring. The two now beat me and this I believe is another motivation for me to keep on improving.” Mueena Mohamed
Fathimath Dheema Ali, who lives in Sri Lanka will not forget in a hurry, a quite unique match. She played against her coach. She played Ishara Madurangi who is a member of the Sri Lanka team that beat Maldives in the group stage.
“It was a great feeling for me playing against my coach in Sweden. She has been my coach and playing against her at the World Championship gave me a special feeling which can only be felt on a big stage like this. Apart from this, I have learned a lot from competing in Sweden particularly on the need to work hard as well as believing in myself. But I am still eagerly looking forward to meeting Ding Ning who has been my table tennis idol.” Fathimath Dheema Ali.
Likewise, 14 year old Aishath Rafa Nazim is excited to be in Sweden, being her second appearance on the global stage. She competed in the 2016 edition in Malaysia.
“It is always an awesome experience to play at the World Championships; the memory will always remain even months after the tournament. The atmosphere coupled with the quality of players and facilities would always inspire you to want to play.” Aishath Rafa Nazim
At the close of play on Wednesday 2nd May, when the group stage had concluded, Maldives occupied fifth place in their group behind Wales, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway and Sri Lanka.