The efforts to lift the fortune of table tennis among girls received a boost in Kenya as a Japanese firm – San Ei Corporation donated 50 tables on July 14, 2018.

According to the media officer of Kenya Table Tennis Association(KTTA), Charity Muturi, the donation is part of the initiative that seeks to have more girls play table tennis as the legacy for both the Tokyo, 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

According to KTTA, the Girls Initiative aims to have by the year 2020 at least 5,000 girls below the age of 12 years playing Table tennis. Apart from nurturing the innate talent that the girls have, KTTA working with Ministry of Youth and Social Affairs and also Tsukuba International Academy of Sports University (TIAS), will run empowerment programs for the girls and local community around.

Speaking during the official launch of the programme; ‘Let the Girls Shine ‘ at Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), Nairobi, KTTA President Andrew Mudibo thanked San – Ei for the donation which will be spread out in the country. The Association also extended its appreciation to Be Forward, Tsukuba International Academy of Sports University (TIAS), Sports For Tomorrow and also the Kenya Government through the Ministry of Sports for ensuring that the donated items reached the table tennis initiative.

16 tables will be distributed to schools in underprivileged areas around Nairobi, that are part of the girls project, while four will be at Mathere Youth (MYSA) (which will be the headquarters of the programme,). The remaining 30 will be distributed around the country.

“Through Sports For Tomorrow, Japan is targeting 10 million people in developing countries, to leave a legacy for the Games all over the world and in Kenya they settled on the girls table tennis project in underprivileged areas as one of them.

“Our target is to field more players in the sport and it is our prayer and hope that a girl from this programme will make it for the Olympics Games. A lot has to be done in terms of equipment, it is not enough but it’s a step forward to the intended target,” said Mudibo.

Mudibo added that each region that would receive a table will sign a contract to ensure that they are being put into proper use.

As part of the long term partnership, Shin Miura, the President of San Ei Corporation said that they are ready to send experts to the country to teach locals on how to make the tables thereby creating employment opportunities.

He further stated that they are willing and will continue to work closely with Kenya Table Tennis Association to achieve milestones for the girls initiative and growth of table tennis in Kenya.

The Japanese Embassy, represented by First secretary Seiji Teshiro, pointed out that the country has a lot of potential in the sport after engaging some girls in friendly matches.

“As the embassy of the Japan we would like to collaborate with the Kenyan Government to see the sport grow.One of the girls I played against was very good. I hope she could qualify for the Games soon,” said Teshiro.

For 10-year-old Jane Campbell of Moi Air Base Primary School, one of the beneficiaries of the programme could hardly hide her excitement after receiving the tables. ” I’m happy that I can be able to access proper equipment for training. Ever since i was introduced to the sport by my friend Ann Marie while I was in class four, while I was just eight years, fell in love with it and wanted to learn more. Ann is now abroad playing the table tennis and I want to be like her. I hope to represent my country one day at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and in any other international events, “said Jane Campbell.