Musfiquh Kalam: life lessons from table tennis

25 Feb 2020

A member of the South African team at the 2016 World Junior Championship in Cape Town; for Musfiquk Kalam, 11th position was her finish in the women’s event at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Cup in Tunis, four places higher than two years ago when the tournament was staged in Nairobi.

It was for the 17 year old notable progress.

An 11th place finish for Musfiquh Kalam (Photo: Moez Fallah) by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

She finished in third place in her initial stage group behind Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou and Algeria’s Katia Kessaci but ahead of Congo Democratic’s Cyntia Nzangani. In the play-off contest she beat colleague, Simeon Mookrey (9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5).

A former pupil at Trafalgar High School in Bonteheuwel in the Western Cape, she started to play table tennis when 10 year old; her coach being Graham Van As.

“Table tennis has given me more than what I had expected because when I started the game at 10, I just wanted to have fun and take it as a hobby. Most of life’s lessons I have learnt came through table tennis.

The sport has kept me away from crime and kept me busy by moulding my character. Virtues like discipline, obedience, and self-belief, trust in oneself are among some of the good things I have won through the sport.
There is no doubt that table tennis has also helped me to travel across the world. I might not be winning much outside South Africa but the lessons of life that I have picked up through the sport will remain with me forever.

My coach has been my motivator because he understands me a lot and he pushes me very hard. On the table, he is my coach and outside the sport, he has also been there. So I am grateful to him for how he has used the sport for me to achieve in my life. I am still learning but most of the virtues I have imbibed now are through table tennis.

My brother used to play, he invited me to his training and it was there I fell in love with the sport. Since then, the game has been part of me. I might not be winning at continental level at present but I am positive that I will win in the near future.”

I think with sport and education one just needs to balance the two because one must not be left for the other to suffer. Each day I return from school at 4.00 pm and I go to training; with this kind of lifestyle, there is no real social life for me but this has been helpful to me.

I love the fighting spirit of Bernadette Szocs. She is a unique player who never gives up in the midst of a challenge. This attracted me to her and I hope this virtue can also help me as well.” Musfiquh Kalam

Musfiquh Kalam has dominated table tennis in South Africa in recent years. She emerged the women champion at 12 years of age and has twice won the women’s singles title at the Southern African Regional