Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has become a household name as far as the game of Table Tennis is concerned. Though he is currently Africa’s no 1 on the ITTF ranking, but it was a feat the 29-year-old achieved because he is being focused, determined and strong-willed despite being faced with tough situation in the environment where he finds himself. Joseph Odoekwu who had a chat with him writes on what the athlete is doing and would do to promote table-tennis and other Sports generally.
PLAYING IN AN ITTF CHAMPIONSHIP WITHOUT A COACH: Quadri has taken part in many ITTF championships without a coach, and has lost count of how many times this has happened to him. He also won the Polish 2017 championship without a coach, an achievement which appeared unrealizable but eventually accomplished. When probed on what it looks like achieving this feat, Aruna has this to say “I must admit that it has not been easy but I am getting used to it. It is painful because with a coach behind you, he can see what you are not seeing while playing and I know this most times gives my opponent an edge over me” “I won the 2017 Polish Open without a coach but for me If I have the means (funding) I will get a coach. But it is quite expensive in Europe to get a coach, you have to pay the coach, pay for his boarding and all these are too much for me to bear. But getting the opportunity to play at ITTF tournament was a boost, and with the support I have been getting from my sponsor – Baba Ijebu and other means have helped me to improve tremendously. It is quite true that I need a coach but I cannot afford it for now”.
SUPPORT GIVEN TO UPCOMING TABLE TENNIS PLAYERS: Aruna may have found it tough getting to the top as Africa’s no 1 table-tennis player in ITTF ranking, but he has also not abandoned other younger Nigerian table tennis players who may be going through what he is also going through. In his own little way, he shows support towards promoting the game by assisting them with equipment which for him is key to their development. This is what shows that the Portuguese-based player is not relenting to support the game. When queried to comment on this, his response was:“In my own little way I have been supporting a lot of junior players in Nigeria with equipment which for me is key to them. I may not be making noise about it but I know a lot of people are aware of my support to Nigerian players at home”. Furthermore, he also believes that assisting them by providing equipment is not just enough, Aruna has also gone further to assist some Nigerian younger players secure contracts with European clubs, and this is part of the significant contributions which he is making to develop the game of table tennis players in Nigeria.
BEING A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION TO ATHLETES GENERALLY: For Aruna, being a source of inspiration to athletes generally is important to him Aruna is therefore conscious about the kind of impact he makes on the lives of other athletes and people across the world generally. “So for me, I make sure I remain positive and a good ambassador of my country wherever I find myself. Even off the table, I relate with some of them and share my life experiences with them because I did not get to where I am today by just dreaming about it but by the Grace of God, and I also worked hard to get where I am today”. Aside being positive about his lifestyle, Aruna also has this to share with those who look up to him, “There is no gain without pain, and this is what always come to my mind, and I work hard to be positive. You must believe in yourself, and this is one of the qualities I am hoping that people can pick from me”.
PRIORITY IF APPOINTED NIGERIA’S SPORTS MINISTER: Even as a Nigerian table-tennis player, Aruna strongly believes that he can make a positive change if appointed as the Minister of Sports in Nigeria in the future. For him, “My major priority is to give all sport the needed attention. I must also say that the financial attention given to football is detrimental to the development of other sports in Nigeria”. “If some of us in other sport get 10 percent financial support of what football is getting today, Nigeria will be among the best sporting nations in the world”.
In the area of job creation, Aruna believes that adequate attention needs to be given to youth development and he will not compromise using that opportunity to create job and further produce future champions for the country. According to him, “What people don’t realise is that sport can create immediate job for people particularly when there are regular competitions, while the athletes will also benefit”. “For me without sport, I will not be where I am today, because sport has taken me far and wide and I have made names for myself and my country”. “So there are many Aruna Quadri out there but what they need is the right support at the right time” he concludes.