Twelve-year-old girl in Kenya squash team to New Delhi - Daily Nation

Twelve-year-old girl in Kenya squash team to New Delhi

Monday October 4 2010

File | Nation Khaaliqa Nimji during a match in Parklands, Nairobi. She is in New Delhi, India, representing Kenya in squash.

File | Nation Khaaliqa Nimji during a match in Parklands, Nairobi. She is in New Delhi, India, representing Kenya in squash. 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

It is every contestant’s dream to win a medal in the world’s second biggest sporting stage — the Commonwealth Games.

Yet it is not even easy to make it to the Kenya team, let alone win a medal at the international level.

But for Khaaliqa Nimji, getting the chance to represent Kenya at the international championship was assured.

The 12-year-old pupil at Peponi School become the youngest to represent Kenya in a senior championship.

Introduced to squash by her father Sadri Nimji when she was just two years old, Khaaliqa represents the future of Kenya in a discipline that has not been understood by many.

Her coach Modecai Kabamba, said Khaaliqa saw a chink in the squash armour and she thinks Kenya can exploit that in New Delhi during the Commonwealth Games and win the first medal outside traditional discipline of athletics.

Kabamba who took Khaaliqa in when she was just eight years, says Khaaliqa displayed extraordinary skills that many children of her age did not have.

“She has been playing for a while. She is young and very much talented. When you compare her skills, tactics and moves, it is what any other player would show at 20 years.

“She plays better than her older opponents and has grasped the basics very fast. I think her father did a great job to lure her into squash,” said Kabamba.

Khaaliqa has no illusions about squash, and knows that it will be hard work throughout.

But the first time she beat her father in a contest, the moment of joy was tempered by a sudden, heartbreaking realisation that the man she revered all these years actually had weaknesses.

“She beat me in training long time ago and I realised she had potential,” said her father Sadri Nimji.

Prior to the qualification for the Commonwealth Games, nobody thought Khaaliqa could make it. At 12, Khaaliqa is currently ranked top in the country among the junior players and remains a great medal prospect for the country in the quadrennial games.

“She was the youngest finalist, but she shocked all. She was committed and focused and at the end, she convinced everyone, she deserved a slot in the team. She was amazing in the competition and she has inspired many young players that age is not a hurdle,” said Kabamba.

Both her mother Salima Nimji and father Sadri Nimji travelled to India to watch their daughter seal her place in the country folklore.

But there was a setback. Her mother was left behind after the Indian High Commission in Kenya declined to clear her travel documents because she is of Pakistani origin.

But that has since been sorted out and the parents will both be on the stands when their daughter starts her campaign for a medal in Delhi.

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