03 Sep 2021

Character, it takes character to compete; that fact is being clearly demonstrated by the five members of the Central Africa Republic team at the current ITTF African Championships; the tournament being staged in Yaoundé from Wednesday 1st to Tuesday 7th September.

Simply being present pays great credit to their fortitude.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Press Officer

The socioeconomic situation at home, among other personal challenges with which the team and their coach have to contend, is enough to kill the resolve to play table tennis.

Add the fact that the team only received the green light to participate two weeks ago, then you will begin to understand the odds facing this resilient group.

Clearly, they are here as testament to their passion for the sport and as a result of their individual doggedness to accomplish their dreams in table tennis.

In spite of the hiccups, they faced travelling to Cameroon, it is obvious to all here in Yaoundé that this team is determined to put their country on the continental map and even the map of the best table tennis playing nations on earth.

Coached by Didier Golongo and captained by Ronald Gueza, there is a single minded determination. Other members of the team are Gloria Bangaye, Princia Mbari, Junior Maka-Gbossokotto and Grace Mozialo.

Didier Golongo explained that providence played a great part in bringing the team to Yaoundé. Selecting a team from the pool of players in the country immediately became a huge challenge; they had to meet that challenge overnight.

“I must tell you that coming to this competition was not without its difficulties because we got to know about it just two weeks ago and we had to select players for the tournament with great speed through a national trial. We had to pick the best for the championships overnight.

Despite the challenges, we are inspired by the passion for the sport. The environment in our country is not too conducive for us to train five times a week but we still love the sport, and we all sacrifice to play it.” Didier Golongo

For Ronald Gueza, playing in the African Championships has afforded him a rare opportunity to meet his idol, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, whom he hopes to play against in this tournament.

“I started table tennis when I was 10 and since then the sport has been part of me. We lack several things like good equipment and updating our knowledge on the latest playing techniques in the sport. Also, we have never had the opportunity to compete internationally. Being in Cameroon is another chance for us to learn from top players and we hope our presence in Yaoundé will give us the chance to get support from the ITTF and ATTF to raise the profile of the sport in our country.” Ronald Gueza

Meanwhile, for 16-year-old Gloria Bangaye, her mission in Yaoundé is to garner experience from the top players.

“I don’t know much about the top players in Africa, but I have been picking useful knowledge from some of the players here. It has been challenging for us as a team. We will not be deterred by the challenges. What drives us is the passion we have for the sport.” Gloria Bangaye

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