by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Press Officer
The most experienced player in the team, Nyaika, who has featured in four African Games, believes their presence in Yaoundé is strictly to gain points for their eventual qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I have featured in the African Games, but this is my first time in the African Championships. I noticed that there is a big difference in the two tournaments as the quality of players is higher here. Playing alongside some of the continent’s best players is an experience we will cherish for a very long time. In all I must say that our mission is to qualify for the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.” Ronald Nyaika
For 17-year-old Flavia Amaniyo, coming to Cameroon is another chance to learn from the experienced players.
Despite the pressure she faces catching up with studies back home, the student of St. Michael International, Wakiso, Kampala believes she has been inspired by the quality of players in the competition to aim high in the sport and life.
“Before I started table tennis in 2017, I was peeping through the window watching my friends playing. Later, they invited me to join them. Since then, table tennis has been part of me. At home my mother stopped me from playing because I was going down in my studies. However, with pleadings from my coach and friends, as well as hearing about my exploits in the sport, she changed her mind. One thing I assured her was that my studies would not suffer for my playing table tennis.” Flavia Amaniyo
The Ugandan national junior champion was excited meeting the likes of Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar in Cameroon.
“I have been inspired to work harder by some of the players I met in Cameroon, especially Aruna whom I had watched several times on video. After watching Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria, I am inspired to aim high in life because at her age she is still playing so well and so fast on the table. This, for me, is good motivation. Now I know that age has nothing to do with what you can achieve in life.” Flavia Amaniyo
Like her captain, Amaniyo emphasised that their mission was to gain a ticket to Birmingham.
Similarly, coach Jude Mutete is excited about the team making the trip to Cameroon.
“I am so happy that we are here to gain experience because the uniqueness of the team is that they are young, with more playing years ahead of them. I am happy that they are here to put everything they have learnt at home into practice. However, we still have a long way to go because our mission here is to pick a ticket to the next Commonwealth Games.” Jude Mutete
Three members of the team were part of the High Performance Training Camp which preceded the commencement of the championships.