Apart from excelling on table, Michael Kuria has shown his dexterity even in the adjudicating of table tennis. However, the 22-year-old has also completed a coaching course at the University of Leipzig in Germany under the International Coaching Course (ITK) programme.
For more than five months, Michael Kuria has learning under the tutelage of top coaches in Germany and now he is ready to make more disciples in his home country in Kenya.
An excited Michael Kuria, who is also an International Umpire, described his experience in Germany as awesome.
“I like the close relationship among the course instructors, the university staff, administrators, my colleagues (ITK Students) and the table tennis fraternity at Leipzig. Through this, there has been a great atmosphere for us and even a wide range of aspects for learning through the local club (LTTV), training camps and even being offered the opportunity to learn from the best during the recent 2016 Liebherr (ITTF) Men’s World Cup in Saarbrucken,” he said.
Narrating how his sojourn began, Michael Kuria said: “I applied for the course through the German Embassy in Kenya and was later contacted via the same about my successful selection for the course. I received the information about the opportunity from my parent association, Kenya Table Tennis Association through a mail which was also sent to many others. Also that was not my first trip to Germany as I was there in August 2014 under the Kenya-Germany Table Tennis Youth Exchange Program in Bamberg, Germany.”
“When I secured the scholarship, I was overwhelmingly happy on receiving the call and mail from the German Embassy concerning the subject. I remember I was still in bed that morning and it was also exactly one week after I had received the news of passing my ITTF International Umpire Exam making it duo happiness and excitement. I was at the University of Leipzig on the International Coaching Course (ITK) under Sports Science Faculty of the University. Among the subjects were Specialization (Theory and Practice) in Table Tennis, General Science of Training, Sports Medicine, Sports Pedagogy, Sports Psychology, Strength Training, Sports Management and German Language,” he added.
On why he decided to embrace coaching, he said: “First and fore-most, I decided to shift into coaching after realizing we don’t have enough coaches back in my country and for example reflecting back to my local club in Kenya (St. Teresa’s TT Club), I believe the kids currently training there can have a significantly brighter future with a coach than without. The desire and passion they have for the sport inspires and motivates me towards this direction. It is my dream and desire to see my country play at greater heights.
On the five months experience, he said: “It was a great course and I have learnt a lot both in class (theory and practical) and through the other avenues and opportunities availed to us like participating in training camps, training with and playing for the local club in the league.”
The fourth year economics undergraduate of Kenyatta University said he hopes to impart the knowledge he had acquired on his compatriots. “I have a lot to offer and one my plans are to work with KTTA under the “Tucheze Tebo” (local slang meaning “Let’s play Table Tennis”) development program in raising and developing junior players, improving the players’ level and strengthening & improving our coaching level and capacity nationwide. I will also be striving at raising successful players in Kenya and African champions in the near future.”
Having seen the quality of the game in Germany, Michael Kuria gave an insight on why Africa still lag behind in the sport, “There are lots of reasons why table tennis is not thriving in Africa compare to what it is in Europe or Asia. First almost all African governments don’t invest enough in sports with table tennis being one of those affected most by this. Shortage in funds makes it hard to develop the sport unlike in Europe and Asia where generally there is a good level of sponsorships and government support across all disciplines of sports. Secondly, while talking with diverse table tennis players, coaches and those involved in table tennis activities from different countries, I realized that most are also affected by poor or mismanagement of the sport by those directly and event indirectly involved with different sports with Table Tennis not being an exception. In most countries, the little that is available is still not being used optimally for the best purposes in the development of the sport. I believe Africa would have a great future if all the factors slowing us down can be put into consideration, narrowed down and reduced to a manageable level.
As one of the four Africans that benefited from the scheme, Michael Kuria described his stay in Germany as unforgettable. “During my stay, I had my first encounter with snow while I had the opportunity to watch the 2016 (ITTF) Liebherr World Cup in Saarbrucken coupled with the great and hospitable people around. The different excursions offered to us and most importantly the life changing lessons in my coaching career from the course.”
Michael Kuria said the popularity of Aruna Quadri (NGR) in Germany has been an inspiration to him. “I think it is a great gesture that the African talent and potential in Africa hasn’t been tapped into nor exploited. I normally follow and read a lot of articles and videos by table tennis athletes, coaches and in one of Aruna Quadri’s articles, he complained of how his government is yet to give him and the sport so much support despite the triumph and he also says how the journey to his glory has had many challenges mentioning lack of proper facilities and equipment. I believe through such great performances by African players, there will be a great impact to the development of the sport through different stakeholders and the corporate world finding it worth to invest in table tennis. There is some light at the end of the tunnel for Africa. Aruna has a great support base from different parts of the world and Germans love his unique style of play. I am proud of him and so are my colleagues. They too believe there is much more that can come out of Africa and that is what I look forward to in the long-run with my country being one of the power houses in this,” he explained.
The five-month course was funded by the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany while the flight ticket was financed by KTTA.