by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Now 25 years of age, Oba Oba Kizito is the current West Africa champion, plying his skills in Europe. He plays for Noisy le Grand, a club located in the suburbs of Paris, competing in the third division of the French League.
However, when Oba Oba Kizito started playing table tennis when nine years old in Koumassi, a suburb of Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, little did he know what lay ahead.
“I started playing table tennis in 2004 in my community, Koumassi and I decided to choose table tennis ahead of football which is popular in my country. Table tennis is a non-contact sport and encourages individual talent.” Oba Oba Kizito
Determined and clearly talented, Oba Oba Kizito progressed from being the national junior champion to senior champion, making his debut in the World Championships in 2017 in Düsseldorf.
“As a junior player, it was not easy competing in Africa because table tennis did not get the needed support in my country but we never gave up. I continued to work hard until I became the national champion in 2017 and competed in my first World Championship. It was that same year that I moved to France to start my professional career with support from my teammate, Ali Kanate.” Oba Oba Kizito
One year earlier at the 2016 African Championship, Kizito had made his senior debut for the Ivory Coast, a tournament in which he underlined his qualities.
Later at the inaugural West African Championship in Abidjan in 2019, Kizito delighted the home fans when competing against top players from Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo and Nigeria. He emerged the first regional men’s singles champion.
The success meant an invitation to the 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Tunis; ninth place proved a most creditable finish; immediately following he competed in the African Qualification Tournament where he finished just below the qualification line.
“I’m 25 now and my ambition is to become Africa champion. I also hope to make it to the top 150 in the world rankings; the Olympic Games remain my biggest dream.” Oba Oba Kizito
Somewhat of a disappointment in Tunis, no Tokyo 2020 place but the passion for table tennis is undiminished.
“I must thank table tennis because I now make a living from the sport. It has become my passion, having opened doors for me to travel out of my country and being based in Europe. It has also taken me to several countries I could not imagine myself visiting.” Oba Oba Kizito
Ambitious, Kizito now has access to better training and equipment; however, he admitted that COVID-19 pandemic has affected his daily routine in France. Undeterred he looks forward to a return to action in the near future.