Uganda’s table tennis team heading to the Commonwealth Games will have the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best players in the East Africa region when they compete in the inaugural edition of the Mutaz Jinja Open from June 4-5.
More than 200 players from Uganda, Kenya and Burundi are expected to compete for honors in different categories in the event to be played at Holy Cross Lake View High School.
Commonwealth-bound players; Ritah Nakhumitsa, Parvin Nangonzi, Florence Seera and Ludia Natunga, alongside other seeds such as Parvin Nangozi, Amina Lukaya, Diouf Miiro, Jemima Nakawala, Jonah Ssenyonga and Benjamin Achuma, among others, are also expected to compete for the different trophies.
Newcomers from the International Schools Sports Gymnastics Games in France, Phillip Napokooli, Tendo Kasoma, Dennis Wasswa, Shanita Namaala, Halima Astolo and Flavia Amaniyo are also expected to attend the event sponsored by the Mandela Group of Companies.
The Mandela Group provided all trophies for the tournament envisioned by 1996 Atlanta Olympian and table tennis coach Paul Mutambuze, who also serves as director and founder of the Mutaz Sports Center, organizer of the event.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday during the launch of the event, Mandela Group trader Herbert Bashasha underlined the importance of sport, especially in building unity, friendship, teamwork and health.
“We decided to support this event to allow the sport to grow in the country,” said Bashasha, who was flanked by Busoga Kingdom Minister Baker Mugayino, Franco Masseto of the Motorcyclists Association and USPA President Patrick Kanyomozi.
Daniel Mutabazi, one of the coaches and organizers of table tennis said that it is necessary to take the sport to more heights, and to all categories of players, which is why the idea of the tournament in honor of Mutambuze was debated.
“We will have a star-studded tournament with ranked players, national players and other players from across East Africa in action,” he said.
Mutambuze spoke passionately about the sport and commended the Mandela Group for its love of the sport and for sponsoring the event which he says aims to produce more East African Olympic table tennis athletes.
“This tournament is just a small component of the large planned table tennis events in Jinja. Gaming is one of the most essential sports in promoting health,” noted Mutambuze.
He said strong competition is expected between Kenyan and Ugandan players.
Masseto noted that there is a need to do more for sport in the country, while Kanyomozi praised the Mandela Group for supporting the sport and Mutaz for taking the game to the grassroots. Mugayino also praised Mutaz for laying the groundwork for the game in the Busoga region.
The event is co-sponsored by Slum Ping Pong (SPP), Trident Printers` and Holy Cross Lake View SS.