In Nigeria, they were respected for their exceptional skills and this endeared them to the heart of the many. But they never had opportunity to showcase their talents in an international tournament but at the ongoing ITTF WJC tagged “Egypt Junior and Cadet Open”, debutants – 12-year-old Abayomi Animasahun and Muibat Bello believe coming to Egypt would add to their knowledge of the sport.
Before leaving Nigeria to Egypt on Sunday June 7, Animasahun was full of live from the airport and even when he boarded the plane he was still excited for this rare opportunity in a country of 200 million population.
When he landed at the Cairo International Airport, his face was brightened when he realised that he has arrived Egypt. At the hotel – Pyramids Park Resort, he conducted himself very well as he was eager to get to the venue.
His first game against Egypt’s Ammar Attia was a delightful encounter as the young Nigerian ensured that he did everything right to win the match at 3-0.
Abayomi Animasahun was lost for words to describe his feeling after tasting action at his first international tournament.
“For me to be here in Egypt, I think it is a great privilege I will forever cherish in my life. This is indeed the beginning of my career. It is a rare opportunity for me to be considered among the over 200 million people in Nigeria. It has always been my desire to move out of Nigeria and play table tennis and I am happy the dream finally came to pass. It is an honour to be here and I thank the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for the exposure,” he said.
Like Animasahun, 11 year-old Muyibat Bello, who despite losing her first match in the tournament, said coming to Egypt would afford her the chance to improve her game.
“I am here to improve on my skills as a player. I am also here to win medals as well as learn some new techniques from my opponents from other countries. After the competition I know I won’t go back home the same way I came because I would have acquired more knowledge. I hope to return to Nigeria to continue to work hard and build on the new things that I have learnt in the tournament,” she said.
A nervous 12-year-old Vivian Oku was still admiring the facilities when she played her first game, which she lost. But the young Nigerian said: “On the table I realise that I was shy and afraid and it affected me during my first match. After the game, the coach tutored me on how to overcome this stage fright and he advised me to focus on the table without looking into my opponent’s eyes,” she said.