By Tony’s Table Tennis
Sisipho Mvunyiswa (19), a member of the South African national table tennis team since 2009, has secured a 1 year contract to play for “Maisons-Laffitte Tennis de Table”, a table tennis club based in Paris, France.
Sisipho grew up in Qokolweni, just outside of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. She started playing table tennis at the age of 11. It all came together when table tennis was introduced to her school. Qokolweni Junior Secondary School principle Mr Maya invited Sisipho to try out this wonderful sport. “I’m a very adventurous person, and there were many tournaments that we participated around my city. Traveling was really fun for me. I could play anytime, day or night, hot or cold and only needed one playing partner to play. It was just great!” remembers Sisipho.
In 2009 at the age of 15 Sisipho made it to the national team. One year later she also secured a scholarship to join the National Table Tennis Academy at the High Performance Centre, University of Pretoria., sponsored by SRSA and SATTB.
In January of 2013, Sisipho secured a table tennis sponsorship with Xiom, a top international table tennis brand from Korea and on top of that, now she also received a once in a lifetime chance to play table tennis abroad!
We talked to Sisipho and asked her what is going on in her head and how this amazing dream came true?
“I’m very excited and nervous at the same time. This is the biggest opportunity not just for me, but for all South African table tennis athletes, so I’m really looking forward to this journey.
But very importantly I would like to thank my family and especially my mom who has always been so supportive through it all. Then there is of course Mr Maya who discovered my potential and encouraged me to play table tennis. I would also like to thank the Eastern Cape table tennis committee that has been supporting me through all the tournaments as well as the South African National Table Tennis Board that gave me so many opportunities to represent South Africa. I would especially like to thank my sponsors, the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, SATTB, Xiom and Tony’s Table Tennis. The support has been great and without them, I would not be able to reach the level I am today.
I came in contact with Jerome, the president of the club through my blog and Facebook. We talked a lot about his club and what he was doing. I visited his website, it was all in French so I couldn’t understand anything, but from what I could gather, they were very professional and organized. Jerome’s obligation is one of the things that inspired me to keep on dreaming big. We spoke a lot about table tennis in SA. We shared ideas and from there everything started to become a reality.”
Jerome Feneche, president of Maisons-Laffitte Tennis de Table: “We are very proud to welcome Sisipho in our club. Since several months now, everybody in the club asks me a lot of questions and can’t wait to meet her. Sisipho is a very good player and at the same time very smart and motivated. I know that she will give her best for the club and we all will give a lot of care to her. For sure she will love to stay in Maisons Laffitte!”
Athi Mda, Sisipho’s coach since childhood, concludes proudly: “My heart is jumping with joy, I had never thought it would really happen especially to someone who comes from the rural areas with such an underprivileged background. What can I say; the kid is not a kid anymore, she’s ready to make her mark out there!”
Fundi Hlobo, Sisipho’s Academy Manager, mentions: ‘’I feel so excited and wish to congratulate Sisipho for attaining this kind of internships. This is the opportunity every player would like to get. She joined the National Academy in January 2010. Through the daily intense training and her dedication, she rapidly improved her performance in table tennis. She is a focused, dedicated and goal-oriented player and I can only see a bright future ahead for her sporting and academic career. Hope she will take the opportunity with both hands, make good use of it and represent the country at the 2020 Olympics!”
Sisipho will be heading off to Paris end of August. Certainly a huge milestone for South African table tennis athletes as the last time our athletes went to play overseas was around 10 years ago, and was funded by the national body. We certainly believe that Sisipho can open up greater opportunities for our athletes to play table tennis abroad and to even become professionals one day.
Sisipho, our table tennis teenage star is heading off to Paris!