By OLUWAFEMI ADEFESO
When 16-year-old NDWABASINI Ezile was growing up he never knew who his father was but with his mother doubling the role for him, there was no time he felt the vacuum.
However, growing up in Mthatha, which is the main town of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality in Eastern Cape province of South Africa was not without it challenges but with the motherly care, the young Ezile never missed anything.
But in 2012 when he was 12, he decided to embrace table tennis and today, the young man has established himself as one of South Africa’s prospect in the sport.
Narrating how it all started, the grade nine pupil of Alphendale High School in East London said: “I never grew up to know my father and because my mother was always there for me I never felt any vacuum. I was born in Mthatha and my mother teaches in crèche. She supported me and my sister in whatever we wanted to do. She might not be able to provide everything for us which we understood. But she was always there for us. She knew I love sports and she wanted me to attend the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria. And in 2012 when I started playing table tennis, I represented my school in inter-school competition and I become the regional cadet champion. My school in Mthatha – Kasa Junior School gave me all the support I needed even until I made the cadet national team of South Africa in 2015, where I went with the team to the 2015 African Junior Championships in Mauritius,” he said.
However, the gift of Ezile caught the attention of Coach Sipho Vika, who owns the Eastern London-based Quigney Table Tennis Club and the tactician decided to adopt the young boy.
Prior to meeting Coach Sipho Vika, Ezile lost his mother, Andiswa in 2014 and this really affected him psychologically.
“When I lost my mother, it was really painful because she was there for me. She supported me taking to table tennis and sometimes she provides some of my equipment for me with the little she was earning from her work. Unfortunately she died in 2014 and it was really painful for me that I had to stay with my sister, who is also schooling in Nthatha. But in January 2016, I got a call from my class teacher who told me that Coach Sipho Vika wanted to adopt me and cater for all my needs. Although I knew the coach but we never met personally. It was later that I was told that he has been monitoring and he likes the way I play. So when the opportunity came I grabbed and up till now, I never regretted leaving with my coach. My coach has stood in for my late mother and he has been supporting me in schooling as well as training. So I will grateful to him for taking me as his son and continue to support me in whatever I want. This alone had given me hope that my dream of dominating table tennis in South Africa will become a reality,” he said.
A member of the South African boys’ team to the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championships, Ezile admitted the superiority of other teams while acknowledging that he has learnt a lot from competing in the championship. “I think my eyes are now opened to the level I am aiming at in table tennis. I watched and played with some of the best players in the world and this alone has ignited my confidence that with hard work I can fulfill my dream of becoming one of the best in the sport.
Prior to the competition, I was actually looking up to South African players but now my role model is Ma Long because I can see the quality of the Chinese star in me. From now on, they will see a new Ezile who want to rule and dominate table tennis in South Africa.”
For the teenager, representing South Africa was indeed a privilege which he would not want to bundle. “I want to continue wearing my national colours but I knew I must also work hard to improve my game. I have learnt from the Asians and Europeans and I will replicate all I have picked in training. My aim is to become South African champion in few years and it is realizable for me with more hard work. Also, I will like to thank my coach for his support and efforts on me and to tell him that I will surely make him proud. Table tennis has become my life and I will continue playing as long as I live. Through the sport, my dream is becoming a reality.
Source: ITTF Africa