by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
However, the journey of Brian Mutua would not have been smooth without the efforts of the Kenya Table Tennis Association, one of Africa’s most vibrant national associations.
New programmes, exciting initiatives, have emerged, notably training tours to China and liaising with top institutions in Germany.
Much credit must go to Andrew Mudibo, the forward thinking President of the Kenya Table Tennis Association; based in the country’s capital city of Nairobi, he is well-known in media relations, marketing and public relations. An international umpire, he is a member of the ITTF Board of Directors and the President of the Eastern Africa Region.
Mudibo has been instrumental in the resurgence of table tennis in Kenya, he is the brainchild behind St. Teresa’s Table Tennis Club, a formidable organisation in Kenya.
Significantly, in order to unearth talents, the national association has been organising leagues among schools in Kenya with the likes of Mutua and Jenny Compell Amadi, who was the youngest table tennis player at the 2019 African Games, being products of the initiative.
Prior to staging the 2018 Africa Top 16 Cup, Kenya sent 25 players for a one month training tour of China at the Zhengding International Table Tennis Training Centre located in Hebei Province.
A total of 25 players from the Oshwal Sports Complex Table Tennis Club, the group comprised 20 juniors between the ages of eight to 17 years plus five adults. The most recent prior occasion when Kenya had sent a team for an international training camp was in 1987; the party included current Secretary General, Fahd Daim as well as Mariga Mwangi, Moses Maina and Noel Carvahlo. They were preparing for the 1987 African Games in Nairobi, Kenya.
After hosting the 2018 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup, table tennis continued to gain recognition in Kenya; Brian Mutua was listed among the eight athletes that benefited from Olympic Solidarity scholarships. He enjoyed financial support that aided his training for the 2020 Olympic Qualification tournament held in Tunis.
Also, Kenya presented an eight man team for the 2019 African Games held in Morocco; the team included 11 year old Jenny Compell Amadi, a young lady aiming to conquer Africa.
Meanwhile, in 2016 at the prestigious annual Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year awards, held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, table tennis made the list when 17 year old Allan Singar became the first table tennis athlete to be listed in the prestigious honours.
A student of Great Rift’s Menengai High School, Nakuru, the fourth largest city in Kenya, he won the Outstanding Sports Schools (Boys) award amidst the arrays of stars in the East African nation. Allan Singar is a product of the Tucheze Tebo initiative launched in November 2015.
Additionally the national association embarked on the training of coaches, 25 year old Michael Kuria, being a product.
Under the Kenya-Germany Table Tennis Youth Exchange Programme, Michael Kuria, who is now the East Africa Regional Development Officer, embarked on a five-month training course at the University of Leipzig in Germany under the International Coaching Course programme. The scheme is funded by the German Foreign Office, the flight ticket was financed by the Kenya Table Tennis Association.
Now Kuria is an international umpire and has organised youth training across the East Africa nations.
Giant strides but Mudibo is being carried away. He is bent on taking the game to new heights in Kenya as well as in East Africa.
Expect much more from the Kenya Table Tennis Association, expect more from East Africa, expect more from Andrew Mudibo!