Japan’s Tsukuba, Kenya Table Tennis enter deal
The Kenya Table Tennis Association signed a partnership with the Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS) of Japan on Saturday in an initiative that will see the sport brought closer to children from the poor areas of Nairobi’s sprawling Eastlands estate.
Under this program, Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and the Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) will join hands in promoting the sport with focus being on school going children especially girls aged between 10 and 12.
The initial target is to first to develop the program in 16 regions, then open up the regions to 50 public schools, said David Theiru, MYSA’s General Manager.
Kenya Table Tennis Association will under its Tucheze Tebo Initiative coach the girls and also train coaches who will spend time with the girls to be able to tap the raw talent.
“The program is not just for talent identification and nurturing but it will aim to transform the lives of the girls and also the local society, where the girls come from, by involving the local community,” KTTA chairman Andrew Mudibo said.
Prof Satoshi Shimizu, who represented the University of Tsukuba, said that the table tennis program is a unique one and one that they are happy to be associated with through MYSA and KTTA.
“The project will see girls being given an equal opportunity to grow in sports and for them to be able to make a life out of sport,” he added.
Under the program, all the partners will ensure that girls in Eastlands are coached and given the best training that should see Kenya produce world beaters in the sport of table tennis.
“Through local and International partnerships, resources will be added into the program as it moves forward, so that as a pilot project in development of sports for girls, the program can be grown to all parts of the Country and hopefully can be emulated in other parts of the world,” Mudibo, explained.
Yamaguchi, who is responsible for the Sport and Development studies at TIAS, said while in the Country, “we have had several fruitful meetings with key institutions, in order to introduce the University of Tsukuba and the Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies. I hope this is the start of a great partnership between Kenya and Japan. We are passionate about sport and education and I hope we can explore ways to share that passion.”
This comes after the national table tennis team failed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics after the country’s sole survivor, Sejal Thakkar bowed out of the 2016 ITTF-African Olympic Qualification Tournament in Khartoum in the quarter finals after being eliminated 4-0 by Lynda Loghraibi of Algeria.
In attendance was Francis K Paul, Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and Charles Nyaberi of the Kenya National Sports Council.
Report by Raymond Ochieng, Abdi Rizack