by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
In 2014, he started promoting table tennis at the Nakasero Table Tennis Club where he became a coach.
Knowing what it meant to live in a poor area, Bazira John Emmanuel Bale decided to set up Slum Ping Pong, a non-profit organisation which was inaugurated in Nsambya last year on Sunday 12th March.
“The foundation was founded by me, Bazira John Emmanuel Bale, with friends Ssremba John Julius, Waiswa Collins, Tumushabe Doreen, Amali Eseza, Ola James, Apio Kevin, Migadde Jackson, Yasin Kizito, Sembatya Sam and Maseruka Francis, who liked the idea. The idea of the initiative is to positively change lives among children and the youths living in slum areas of Uganda, mainly through table tennis, workshops, seminars and other possible activities and programmes.” Bazira John Emmanuel Bale
The goal is to create a sustainable community of responsible healthy young people, whilst also making Slum Ping Pong the best table tennis club in Africa. The aim is to produce strong table tennis players, administrators, umpires, and coaches.
“Playing table tennis and living in a table tennis community gave me hope for a better life. I was an orphan living a hard life, being born and raised in the slums. I started playing table tennis at the Sharing Youth Centre in Nsambya when in primary grade four. I became the best cadet player in Uganda. I got the chance to study free at the Railway Children’s Primary School in Nsambya. I played in tournaments carrying the flag of the school.” Bazira John Emmanuel Bale
Later Bazira John Emmanuel Bale gave back to the sport which had helped him gain an education.
“I started teaching the sport in 2014 at the Nakasero Table Tennis Club. I was a successful coach there. I made the kids better players and eventually the best in East Africa, winning different tournaments. I got an Idea of introducing the sport to my old primary slum school when I realized I was a good coach, loved by the Nakasero club kids. I was inspired and I wished to share the same approach with my community where I come from! So I suggested the idea to the Railway Primary School and to some friends and they liked it.” Bazira John Emmanuel Bale
Now with funds from well-wishers and friends, Bazira John Emmanuel Bale hopes to unearth talents for Uganda.
“The project has been in existence for just over one year. We have not yet produced any player for the Uganda National Team but there are so many young and promising players in the project. Last year Apio Sheavan won the Under 10 Girls’ Singles event at the Uganda National Schools Tournament. Most importantly, we know very well that this kind of sport can help in the rehabilitation of disadvantaged children and also help them earn a living.” Bazira John Emmanuel Bale
Seeking further support, Bazira John Emmanuel Bale hopes to popularize table tennis throughout the rural areas in Uganda.