Meet Amina Lukaaya, the female star championing education through table tennis in Ugandan slums
London, Sep 7, 2019 (AltAfrica)-At 31, Amina Lukaaya knows what struggles looks like. She also knows the value of opportunity if one comes across. The Uganda number two female star is equally aware of the dramatic impact sports could have on poverty and she’s determined to be a positive impact on the younger generation
Amina Lukaaya has represented Uganda at three editions of the African Games inluding the just concluded-12th edition in Rabat, Morocco. Her romance with table tennis started in 2002 and despite her passion for the sport, the mother of one was able to complete her degree study at the Kyambogo University in Uganda.
As a member of the Ugandan national team, the Statistics and Economics graduate decided to see how she could improve the lives of young people in her community by setting up Mimi’s Table, a grassroots table tennis academy in 2017 with the aim of giving less-privilege children the opportunity to develop their talent as a tool to break the chains of poverty and crime.
“I had represented Uganda at African Games and this will be my third outing for my country. For me I am so grateful to the government of Uganda for giving table tennis the opportunity to be part of the African version of the Olympic Games. I am indeed honoured to wear my national colour and this became possible through sport,” she addmited.
Having grew up in Naguru, the largest city in Kampala, Amina Lukaaya wanted to impact her community and this she has been doing in the last two years.
“Having privileged to make the Uganda national team, I wanted to see how I can help my community especially people who most times drop out of schools to engage in crime. I know that for me sport is a big tool that can change lives. I believe through sports they can get scholarships to go to school. So I am using the academy to inspire these young ones on the need to inculcate some virtues like respect, honesty and fair play which are traits of a good sportsperson.
“Going to school in Uganda might be expensive for these poor kids but sharpening their talents in table tennis can earn them the education they desire in life,” she added.
Not discouraged by the less support the academy has been attracting, Amina Lukaaya said: “As a businesswoman now, it is the little I get from my business that I spend on making locally made tables and support from friends has been helpful too. I am looking forward to the needed support so that we can help these children because I believe table tennis is big tool as some of them look up to me. They sometimes doubt me whenever I tell them I grew up in the community and I am now playing for the national team and they were amazed. I made them to realise that they can achieve their dreams in life with hardwork and integrity.”
For Amina Lukaaya, the efforts being made by the Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA) to grow the sport would pay off as more junior players are now coming through. “I just commend UTTA for their efforts to take the sport to the grassroots which is helping the popularity and growth of the sport and I hope in the next few years, Uganda will be rated among the top table tennis playing nations in Africa,” the Uganda number two female star said.