by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
A member of the Ugandan national team, the statistics and economics graduate decided to see how she could improve the lives of young people in her community by setting up Mimi’s Table; a grassroots table tennis academy. The initiative started in 2017, the aim being to give less privileged children the opportunity to develop their talents as a tool to break the chains of poverty and crime.
“I had represented Uganda at the African Games; this will be my third outing for my country. For me I am so grateful to the government of Uganda for giving table tennis the opportunity to be part of the African version of the Olympic Games. I am indeed honoured to wear my national colours; this became possible through sport.” Amina Lukaaya
Having grown up in Naguru, Amina Lukaaya wanted to impact her community and this she has been doing for the last two years.
“Having been privileged to make the Uganda national team, I wanted to see how I could help my community, especially people who most times drop out of school to engage in crime. I know that for me sport is a big tool that can change lives. I believe through sport they can get scholarships to go to school. So I am using the academy to inspire these young ones on the need to inculcate some virtues like respect, honesty and fair play which are traits of a good sportsperson. Going to school in Uganda might be expensive for these poor kids but sharpening their talents in table tennis can earn them the education they desire in life.” Amina Likaaya
Not discouraged by the lack of support for the Academy; Amina Lukaaya is positive.
“As a businesswoman now, it is the little I get from my business that I spend on making locally made tables; support from friends has been helpful too. I am looking forward to the needed support so that we can help these children because I believe table tennis is big tool as some of them look up to me. They sometimes doubt me whenever I tell them I grew up in the community and I am now playing for the national team, they were amazed. I made them realise that they can achieve their dreams in life with hard work and integrity.” Amina Likaaya
For Amina Lukaaya, the efforts being made by the Uganda Table Tennis Association to grow the sport will pay off as more junior players are now coming through.
“I just commend the Uganda Table Tennis Association for their efforts to take the sport to the grassroots which is helping the popularity and growth of the sport and I hope in the next few years, Uganda will be rated among the top table tennis playing nations in Africa.” Amina Lukaaya