Despite being a sporting nation, table tennis is far from popular in South Africa. No wonder then that the rainbow nation’s top female paddler is known in her locality in suburban Johannesburg more for her highly specialised profession as a biokineticist than her five successive national championship titles.
But Danisha Patel has no qualms about it.
“Table tennis is way behind in terms of popularity and support in comparison with sports like soccer, rugby and cricket. Things are changing at a slow pace but unfortunately it’s still considered a recreational activity more than a competitive sport,” reveals the 26-year-old southpaw.
Biokinetics may still be in its nascent stages in terms of awareness in India, but Danisha reveals it is a recognised domain in South Africa.
“There is a lot of awareness about injury management and rehab, which is where biokinetics comes in, so my day is spent in dealing with clients who have suffered general and sports injuries,” she says.
Having been working as a professional for five years, Danisha is trying to maintain balance between career and passion. But it’s her career option, she says, that helps her emotivated towards pursuing her passion.
“I cannot train much due to my work commitments but I love the sport so much that I manage to train whenever I can. More importantly, since I spend most of the day in the gym, it helps me remain match-fit.”
A member of the vast Indian expat community in South Africa, Danisha has relatives in Navsari district in Gujarat. While she spent a few days in her ancestral place after competing in the Surat edition of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in 2015, this time around, she is planning to spend four days in Pune along with her childhood friend.
“I like exploring India. I have been to south, and spent a good vacation on the house boats in Kerala. Now I am looking forward to exploring the western part and hopefully I can bump into one of the Bollywood stars, especially my favourite Sidharth Malhotra,” she concludes with a wink.
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