Nigeria table tennis Youth Olympian, Esther Tosin Oribamise speaks with HASSAN ABDULSALAM on the need for a young table tennis player to combine Education and career together.
How did you become a superstar in table tennis?
I started playing table tennis at the age of 8 as a primary 6 pupil, then, there was a table tennis competition for primary school pupils in Ekiti state.
It was then the state coach( who’s my coach now) Mr. Ajayi Olubode came to my school to pick some students that will represent Ado LGA in the competition. I was one of the pupils that were selected to represent the local government. some days to the competition my coach gave some training and with that, i was able to emerge the second-best in the competition.
The news was on all radios and televisions in Ekiti state, many friends and relatives were calling my parents to congratulate them. This made my parents be proud of me, they started giving me the necessary supports and got to meet with my coach to get my necessary equipment.
From there I started practicing and a few months later I and some other players went for a southwest competition in Ibadan where I came second.
After that, I went to another competition in Abeokuta which happened to be my first national competition and I came first.
It was at the competition I was discovered by the boards from the table tennis federation, that’s how my journey as a national athlete started. First international competition was in the Abidjan, West A first table tennis championship where I emerged the champion of both U-13 and U-15 women categories.
What is your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been the ability to combine education with table tennis. it hasn’t been easy being a full time higher institution student and also the desire to be an elite athlete.
School take most of my time and sometimes I didn’t get to prepare well for some of my championships.
Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. But I’m grateful both are doing well
Glory to God that you are able to combine education and your career, which school are you, what course and level?
I studied human kinetics and health education in Ekiti state university. Actually wrote my final paper as an undergraduate student on the 18th December 2019
Combining career and education, What has been your greatest motivations in life?
I realize most of the Nigerian athletes really don’t have quality education. Reason being that most of them believe it will be quite difficult to combine the two. It gives me lots of concerns when I see athletes aren’t able to face the media due to the fact that they can’t comport in speaking English. My greatest motivation is simply the desire to inspire the younger athletes that being an athlete doesn’t stop academics. Sure it won’t be easy, but it’s possible if you really want to be outstanding in both areas.
Have you ever been mocked or embarrassed because of table tennis?
That has really not happened to me on the account of being a table tennis player
Aside from playing table tennis, studying, Do you have any other work or have any vocational skills?
Not really but I am chorister in the church. That quite takes a lot of my time also, you know going for rehearsals and all.
But I love praising God. And that’s one of the things I love to do whenever I’m bored of probably when I have a heavy heart.
Now that we are in the new year, what is the target in 2020?
The target is to do better than I did last year
Finally, What would you like to say to people, especially young minds that want to be a professional table tennis player?
To the young dreamers, I would like to say that there is nothing you can not achieve and you can be whoever you want to be in life. Through hard work, discipline, and belief. You just see yourself right there.
And to everyone, I always love to tell people to live life as if tomorrow is not promised, treat people with respect and spread love.