St. Joseph’s teacher Musumba who kickstarted ping-pong craze with dining hall tables
- When you think of sports in Kitale, the first one that comes to mind is probably table tennis. Others may argue soccer, but there is a reason why the former holds sway.
- Secondly, the next thing that will strike your mind is a production line of table tennis stars who realized their potential in extra curriculum activities.
- Thirdly are the men and women who sacrifice their time to mentor an indefatigable group of table warriors – coaches.
When you think of sports in Kitale, the first one that comes to mind is probably table tennis. Others may argue soccer, but there is a reason why the former holds sway.
Secondly, the next thing that will strike your mind is a production line of table tennis stars who realized their potential in extra curriculum activities.
Thirdly are the men and women who sacrifice their time to mentor an indefatigable group of table warriors – coaches.
For 8 years, English and Literature teacher Austin Musumba has voluntarily imparted the sweet science of ping-pong to young boys at St. Joseph’s School Kitale, thanks to Kenya Table Tennis Association “Tucheze Tebo” (Swahili for Let’s play TT) initiative which spearheads the sport in Kenya through equipment and technical support.
Rightly so, St Joseph has been doing something right for a number of years… with all the great players it’s produced.
“I have produced a number of players since 2014. Mwangi Brian, formally of Kenyatta University, and Edwin Otieno, the current captain at KU is some of my products.”
‘Table Tennis at St. Joseph Boys started small with dining hall tables then after winning our first national championship the table tennis association under the president Andrew Mudibo started supporting us with equipment.
Allan (Chesang) and Lotti (Kennedy Kojal) who later played for the national team were not my players but we trained together under Coach Justus Gichuki. Together with Lotti we started a team at St Joseph’s Boys. In Kitale, we train together with the girls at St Monica during holidays.
I also train primary school children. But due to the novel Coronavirus situation we have had to halt our program to comply with the government’s directive on social gathering.”
“I don’t compromise discipline and academic performance. General hard work and determination are our buzzwords. All my players have joined university after school. So it’s a critical balancing act. In the next five years the national team will be dependent on Kitale for table tennis talent and you can mark my words on this one,” Musumba says with the conviction of a judge.
St Joseph’s have also been to the KSSSA national school games since 2014 and got their mitts on the number one trophies in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“In 2019 we also won the East Africa Games from Uganda,”he recalls with nostalgia, adding.”Last year’s team had my finest. This included Charles Kinyua, son to Coach Gichuki, Boniface Musyoki, Bethwel Cheruyot, Shume Mungah, Meshack Simiyu, Job Ian and Laban Msafari who was in the Kenya team to the All Africa team in Morocco last year. Only four of last year’s team cleared school last year, the rest are form 2s.”
Asked what makes his boys tick, Musumba quips: “It’s not just fighting, it’s about skill and strategy.”
“I make my players believe in winning,” Musumba said, adding: “I also talk to them about how good they are, how good they’re going to become if they remain focused, and how good they’re doing so when they get into the match situation they’re already champions by virtue of determination.”
Most of the students he instructs have never been into a table tennis game before seeking his guidance, and yet year-after-year Musumba brings out champions.
“As long as they learn to keep pushing forward that’s all that matters. We start from scratch and chuffed where we have reached thus far.”
Asked what his secret is, Musumba narrates in finality: “I think the recipe for our success is our consistency. The whole team is behind the programme, from the academic side and the sporting side,”
ST JOSEPH’S ROLL OF HONOR:
1.2014 National champs in Kakamega and silver medalists in East Africa Games in Dar es Salaam
2.2015 National- Silver in Machakos and Bronze in Huye Rwanda East Africa
3.2016 National-Silver in Kisumu and East Africa bronze in Eldoret
4.2017 National champion Nyeri and East Africa silver in Hulu Uganda
5.2018 National champions in Eldoret and Bronze in Musanze Rwanda
6.2019 National champions in Kisumu and East Africa champions in Arusha Tanzania
7.2020 Boniface Musyoki 2nd position in Soya awards held in Mombasa
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