Mustapha Mustapha, 10, and his brother Musa, 9, played at their first international tournament on Wednesday in the ITTF U-21 men’s singles.
Despite being overpowered by their older opponents in both their two group matches, the Abuja-based duo took away valuable lessons with a vow to keep improving after picking up the sport via their father, Saheed Mustapha, a former player himself, just a year ago.
Their story has been a hit on social media where it was the most retweeted post of the opening day on the tournament’s official account, @ITTFNigeriaOpen. At the time of going to press, it had been retweeted more than 40 times while gaining enquiries from fans and journalists.
Mustapha, whose role model is Germany’s Timo Boll, said: “We began playing table tennis in 2017 and have played in a few other tournaments but the Nigeria Open is our first international tournament. We have learned a lot from playing against more experienced players.”
The younger Musa, whose role model is Japan’s Harimoto Tamokazu, declared confidently: “I will win the Nigeria Open in future.”
Mustapha lost to Nigeria’s Augustine Emmanuel 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 in the first group game and to Wang Xinyang of China in the second.
Musa lost to Tobi Falana 11-3, 11-6, 11-2 in his first group game before falling to Wael Ziad of Egypt in his second game.
The experience gotten from the Nigeria Open 2018 will help the Mustapha brothers’ confidence as they continue their table tennis journey.