Teams from Southern African region converged in Gaborone, Botswana for the African Union Sport Commission (AUSC) Region 5 Table Tennis tournament held on January 25 to 28 at Botho University Multipurpose Hall in Gaborone.

Six countries from the region took part in the tournament with South Africa dominating all the events while 15-year-old Kalam Mushfiquh stole the show with her scintillating performance, which fetched the teenager the women’s singles title.

94 players from the six participating nations competed in 10 events including three para events.

According to Competition Director, Kudzanani Motswagole, the legacy the event brought to Botswana was for the first time the Region 5 championship had included Para table tennis competition.

“Though Zambia could not make it through with their two para athletes, the two teams competed in 3 events being mixed team, and individuals. Some of the athletes were not classified hence, living their association together with the region to classify them and open room for international competitions. The Para athletes were allowed to play in able bodied events as well. The most important lesson learnt as a region; we have been denying the most passionate group in the region by not providing forums of competition for them in so many competitions. Indeed it was an eye catching and memorable scene to watch since they played with passion and commitment,” he said.

Kudzanani Motswagole, who is also the region technical director said The competiveness of the competition was very high with South Africa dominating after winning six of the seven able-bodied events as well as two of the three para events, while the host – Botswana topped one of the para event.

The singles event witnessed fierce rivalry between Angola and South Africa with veteran South African Shane Overmeyer claiming the men’s singles title while her teenage compatriot – Kalam Mushfiquh emerged winner in the women’s singles.

“Despite the good display of the much admired skills of our athletes it is a sad note to realize that their continental and international rankings are very low. It is important to note that one of the contributing factors is the financial constraints to the concerned association as they are unable to send athletes to ranking tournaments. Technically, despite dominance of South Africa, it is encouraging to note that the point was always obtained after long rallies that entertained supporters and all stakeholders. Indeed the games provided fun and excellent environment for the game of table tennis,” Kudzanani Motswagole added.

The tournament received quality media coverage from top media houses in Botswana while it was also supported by corporate bodies including Oasis Motel, Double Happiness (DHS), CBMC, Botho University, Turnstar Holdings, Choppies Superstores, Impression House, Yarona FM Radio Station, Master Joinery Prinsan Group, Alikay Builder (PTY) LTD, Hanscy PTY LTD and Karong Clinic.

The excellent display by the South Africa teenager Kalam Mushfiquh was the climax of the tournament as she defeated experienced players to be crowned the women’s singles champion.