There is certainly nothing much to write home about the Kenyan table tennis team. For over a decade, the country's paddlers have not done much outside the African nation to get noticed. Slowly and steadily, efforts are being made to develop a strong team in all disciplines.
At the welcome ceremony at the Games Village here on Thursday, a senior Kenyan official said, “we have been working hard for several months and are ready to participate. We have come here to win medals. We are ready to compete with others.”
Kenyan table tennis coach Fahd Daim echoed similar sentiments. Daim said the paddlers had been playing together for the last one year and that there was no reason why they should not do well.
The team has in its ranks an experienced Anthony Mathenge, who at 37 years, is one of the oldest playing members in the Kenyan contingent. The other members of the team are Pascal Mutinda, Derrick Inyanje and the only lady player Valencia Cheptoo.
Mathenge, who lost very early in the last edition at Melbourne four years ago, is determined to work his way through. “This time round, a medal is worth the effort and the struggle I have put in this sport. We have had the best selection criteria going around the country the whole season. It has kept us in top form for longer and just like professional players, we can now take on them head on,” he told Xinhua recently.
Forty-year-old Fahd Daim, the team's coach, is hopeful of Kenya putting up a better show than the one in Melbourne where the men's team won only one match out of six in the league.
“We have been training hard for the last one year. Our idea is to perform better. We are better in team events. We are hopeful of a good show,” he said.
On Mathenge, Daim said, “he is the captain and has been the No.1 paddler of us in the last two years. He has promised me that he'll do his best.”
Daim felt that the winds of change would sweep Kenya in table tennis in the next four to five years.
“Earlier we used to concentrate on only senior players. Now we are beginning to focus on juniors. It takes time for a process to take shape. Nothing can be done overnight. We are making small progress. I am sure you will see the changes in another five years,” said the coach, who has represented Kenya in two CWGs (2002 and 2006) and five All-African Games and three World championships.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games