*We want to rule the world of table tennis
By Suleiman Ajeigbe, Offa
Uthman Abdulsalam along with his sister, Fardat Abdulsalam, both students of Offa Grammar School made history with the Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin Community Sports Development project in Offa, Kwara state. There was a planned wait to see which male and female will be the first to officially register and they made the record marks.
Asked what is their ambition in the sport, Fardat said, “I followed the story of Funke Oshonaike. I want to beat every record she has in the sport. Tell her to watch out for me. I am coming with speed,” eliciting laughter at the seriousness, calmness and childish innocence she said it.
Whereas, Uthman Abdulsalam who was born on 21st September 2005, and is presently now in JSS 2 said, “I love the way Aruna Quadri played in the Olympics. I did not know that some day I will have this opportunity. I want to meet him and tell him that I want to be his photocopy. I want to rule the world of table tennis.”
Their father is Mr. Maruf Abdulsalam. He hails from Offa. He was born to the family of Abdulsalam in Oganla Compound in
the ancient community. He is married to Mrs Kehinde Abdulsalam.
The family has five children, comprising of three boys and two wonderful girls. The family practice Islam as their religion.
Mr. Maruf Abdulsalam is a businessman. During his growing youthful days he played volleyball. He speaks three languages fluently which includes Yoruba being his native language with Hausa and English.
Like his children, he attended Offa Grammar School. Being a father who has a rich educational background and knows the value of sports and how it helps children to develop mentally and physically he is so motivated to support his kids to be part of the project.
According to him, when the legendary sprinter came on a visit to the Olofa last year, and disclosed why they were coming to Offa, I had prayed that that project comes alive and true.
I had pledged if they bring this programme to this town, I will encourage my children to tap into the opportunity. Meanwhile, he also pledges that he will give all he can to support the full involvement of his children and he will be willing to be a volunteer on the programme.
To make the children better equipped to take full advantage, I have bought training canvasses for both of them. He advised all the parents in the community to take good advantage of the project and involve their wards/kids in the programme. He also added that apart from the monetary gain, this is a programme that can give the children a career beyond also helping them to develop mentally and physically. I urge the people of the community to be patient and show high level of
When asked if he will like his kids to do another game instead of table tennis, he responded that for now he will like them to play table tennis and may be in the future they may decide other wise on their own.
With the name of Kasali Lasisi, a household name in Africa behind the project, you can start to imagine what I am thinking. Ordinarily, this kind of project has never taken place anywhere in Nigeria. They bought and brought equipment worth millions and employed eminently qualified internationally rated coaches, wao! This is unprecedented.
My prayers goes to Chief Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin who nominated and brought this programme to Offa. Just wait and watch what happens to these children in another one or two years. Someof them would have become celebrities in their own rights.
This reporter also met with one of their uncle, Mr. Abdulwasiu AbdulSalam, a former footballer. He is also happy with the kids getting involved in the programme which according to him will bring the name of Offa back into global limelight in sports.
Incidentally, Offa has produced a chunk of table tennis prodigies like Barrister Wahab Shittu, Mujidat Olanrewaju and two of her brothers. The Abdulsalams have a record to follow and track up in their quest to rule the world of ping pong.