•He also made the team which featured in the All African Games in Rabat, Morocco last year besides several other national team assignments.
•He now hopes to grow his sporting career alongside furthering his Professional skills in the computer trade.
Having already taken some impressive scalps at regional level, Kenya number two Josiah Wandera is gradually developing an insatiable appetite for global success.
The reigning Zambia Chinese Ambassadors Cup champion has been working to perfect his game with the noble objective to test the waters at International level.
Wandera was among the four players who represented Kenya at the 2020 ITTF Africa Olympics Qualifiers held at the Olympique de Rades multipurpose gymnasium in Tunis. He also made the team which featured in the All African Games in Rabat, Morocco last year besides several other national team assignments.
“It reaches a time in one’s career when you feel you need a fresh impetus into your sporting career. After the qualifiers in Tunis, I have targeted to perform well at International level because I feel there is nothing left for me to prove at regional level,” remarked Wandera, adding: “I have won many local events and taking it outside the country would be a great pleasure.”
Wandera graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Computer Science bachelor’s degree. He now hopes to grow his sporting career alongside furthering his professional skills in the computer trade.
Although the soft-spoken player may not be able to sit at the same dinning table with the likes of Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Egypt’s Assar Omar, he surely must have graduated eating from the crumbs.
“The standards of the game at continental level are honestly way above what Kenya has to offer at the present but again as the old Chinese adage goes, a journey of a thousand miles will always start with a single step. At least, we are making good progress in Kenya.”
“My computer science bit is as demanding as knocking balls on the table. It entails networking, programming and software development. I have always been a fan of computers as it’s a generational thing. Recently, I have developed keen interest in reading psychology books to deliberately sharpen my way of thinking and to try to be logical. This has immensely improved the way I interact. I realised I had an introvert behaviour.”
When not playing table tennis, Wandera savours a decent side hustle. “I do websites and develop mobile Apps as a freelancer as I continue seeking a permanent job.”
On the ping-pong table, Wandera is an offensive and attack minded player with a more consistent forehand attack.
He started his table tennis career at Musingu High in 2008 while in Form 3 and by the time he was in Form 4 , he had already earned himself the captain’s armband.
Four years ago, Josiah Wandera joined the growing list of Kenyan star players who benefited from Tucheze Tebo— young players empowerment program.
Through the Kenya Table Tennis Association initiative, the Nairobi-based computer scientist attended a month-long intensive training program in France, where he was attached to Neuilly Sur Seine Club under the tutelage of Mathias Trouplin. The training program took place between June and mid July 2016.
“Table tennis for me has been a way of living. It has helped me keep my mental health in check during some of the most difficult times in my life and on several occasions, I have been lucky to win honours thus cushioning me financially even if it’s just for a moment.
“ In France, there was the clear factor of overall improvement in my table tennis skills but for that to happen, I had to completely change some of the techniques I was used to.
“But more importantly, I felt like my mental strength had improved significantly and this helped me not just in table tennis but also in other areas of life. I was taught patience, persistence and understanding.
“I was taught I won’t always lead in matches or win them for that matter but how I get back after losing is crucial as well. Coming to table tennis and computer science, I just have to try and find a balance between the two. All work and no play makes you dull, right?
“ It’s a clear message that one can actually excel in both and the existence of one doesn’t mean sacrificing the other.”
“While training, I interacted with a lot of players who were playing in the French League at the time and the experience was amazing.
I got to play some handicap matches, where you give points to your opponent and start from behind. In one of the handicap matches, I played and reached the finals where I gave my opponent a 16-0 advantage and I had to try and play catch up. My opponent won the match 36-32.”
Wandera has many plans in table tennis. “Short term, I intend to fight for my place in the Kenya national team and much improved performances in tournaments abroad. Long term, I would want to disseminate what I have been learning over the years to the upcoming junior players,” Wandera said. Wandera became the third player to attend a month-long training program in Paris.
“In Paris, I met the coach on Day One for an introductory phase of training. Thereafter, I played some few games just for him to get to see and analyse my style of play, weak points and strengths. Then he mentioned them to me later after that first session. A lot of multi-balls and footwork training was also part of the scheduled programme and this went on for a period of a month. I learnt a lot, from table work to the mental aspect of the game. One of the most stressed out issue was patience. So all these skills and more is what I have loved to share with not only my teammates but the Kenyan table tennis community as a whole, for us to move forward as one.
Wandera says that time keeping in sport is of essence. “It’s always important to have a schedule and stick to it. If you say you want an hour per day for just training on services then adhere to that. Another thing is being attentive.”
Wandera started playing table tennis in high school and just grew to be part of it till he completed. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue playing the game after high school as I was in a remote area. So I had to stay out of playing from 2010 up till 2014.The essence was to come back and start more like from scratch, but I put in more hours. With the help of my team-mates, here I am.
Now I’m benefiting from the good projects of the association like ‘Tucheze Tebo’. Things have worked out well for me so far.
I’m not there yet, not where I would want to be though but I must say there is still room for a lot more.”
Name: Josiah Obai Wandera
Date of birth: 05.12.1992
Hometown: Sio-Port, Busia
Occupation: Computer Scientist
National team debut: All Africa Games 2015
Hobbies: Bike riding
First Club: City Club
Previous Clubs: None
2020 goal: Olympics qualification
Greatest TT player: Zhang Jike
Favourite Local player: Brian Mutua
Playing style: Offensive
Marital status: Single
Family: 2 sisters 1 brother
Occupation: Currently interning at Twaweza East Africa
2021 goal: Haven’t set any goals yet
- Eastern region singles semi finalist
-Eastern region doubles finalist in Mauritius
-Training stint in Paris for 45 days
- Zambia Chinese Ambassadors Cup singles winner
- 2016- one and a half months training in France with Neuilly Sur-Seine Paris
- 2017-Eastern region tournament-Bronze team event
- 2019 Jinja Open winner