By Munira Bux
In a heartfelt revelation on NBS SportLive on Thursday, June 1, 15-year-old table tennis sensation Astolo Halima opened up about her extraordinary journey and the unwavering love for her sport that inspired her to start playing at such a tender age.
Hailing from a small town of Mbogo in Kawempe, Halima set her eyes on Table Tennis as a way out of a money crisis her Mother was facing.
A then 11 year old Halima ventured into Table Tennis with a main mission to acquire a bursary. Halima demonstrates the transformative power of passion and dedication. She went on to acquire the bursary at Mbogo college that she had initially set out to pursue.
Halima’s rise to prominence in the table tennis world has been nothing short of remarkable. In an exclusive interview with Munira Bux, she shared overcoming early setbacks that included lack of proper training gear. “I used to train in long dresses. I didn’t own sportswear until my coach told me that to be able to play better, I had to have appropriate wear. My mother saved up and I managed to buy one that I wore for months in the start.”
Halima defied the odds, finding solace and joy in the rhythmic bounce of the ball but it didn’t come easy, seeing as she was a shy child that was afraid of asking for help. “The boy that first taught me how to play used to make fun of me in the beginning asking why a small girl like me wanted to play table tennis. We eventually became friends, he gave me my first lesson.”
“I didn’t reveal to my mother that I was playing table tennis until my sisters got curious and followed me to training one day. My mother tells me every day that she is proud of me,” Halima tearfully admitted. Halima’s mother was skeptical in the beginning about her young child joining the sport, but in 2022 when she was told that her daughter would be part of the team representing Uganda in Normandy France at the International Secondary School Games she beamed with pride.
Halima, who is currently the leader of the Uganda Table Tennis Association National League, has a spirit that transcends her age, inspiring others to find their own calling and pursue it fearlessly. “I want young children like me to know that sport has many opportunities and they need to embrace it.”
Despite her rapid ascent, Halima remains grounded and humble, eager to push her limits and continue her journey towards greatness. Her story serves as a reminder that age is just a number when it comes to pursuing one’s dreams.
As Halima continues to blossom as an impressive talent, her story will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on the world of sports and beyond. She currently looks forward to the international table tennis Africa Youth championships that will happen this July in Morocco.