by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
She is one of the 250 children that have been part of the Hoima Network of Child Rights Clubs (HONECRIC), a project based in rural area in western Uganda; the aim to reduce early school dropout rates and encourage the inclusion of children with and without disabilities.
The ITTF Foundation supports HONECRIC.
Since inception in 2017, the table tennis programme has been active in nine primary schools and three secondary schools, reaching 250 children and youth per week.
A former pupil at Kitana primary school, Atugonza completed her ‘Primary Leaving Examinations’ in 2019 and passed in grade two.
“I have been participating in this table tennis programme since 2017. So, it is for three years now. Before I started playing table tennis, I had never discovered my sport talent and potential, including having no focus. I wanted to enjoy the fun in it and participate in competitions for my school.
My participation has helped me to gain more skills and most importantly paved a way for me to join a good secondary school in Mbale, although I had lost all hope for a secondary education. I had to repeat a class in primary school, now I’ve already passed well. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to a secondary school.
Through this scholarship, I have gained friends, travelled within and outside Hoima to play for my school, I have discovered that I can play table tennis and was awarded the ‘champion in life’ title at Mbale High School. I never dreamt about this,”
I don’t think my life would be fine, in the first place, my results in the ‘Primary Leaving Examinations’ were retained at school due to my parents not having completed the school development funds! So, I was confused not knowing whether I had passed or not.
Joining this programme helped me to console myself and empathise with other children. It was even more an advantage to participate in the holiday clinic through which I was identified by the coach; meaning, had I not attended the holiday clinic, I wouldn’t have been selected for this opportunity.
I’m happy to be identified as a potential good player, for the opportunity itself and to study in a good school.”