A ping pong prodigy who developed a passion for the sport by accident is urging other youngsters to try the sport for free, at Stretford Mall this half term.
Ibrahim Abdullah may only be 11, but since picking up a bat less than a year ago, his potential has been recognised by former Scottish international table tennis player and national champion, Brian Kean, who now coaches him.
It’s all thanks to his former head teacher at Kings Road Primary School, Darren Morgan who set up an after school table tennis club.
It was a friend of Ibrahim’s who suggested he give it a go, and the rest is history.
Now, the Stretford Grammar School pupil is calling on other kids to try it out at the shopping centre during the October holidays.
The tables, which were provided to Stretford Mall by Table Tennis England’s Ping! Festival, are located in the events space near Pep&Co and Peacocks.
Bats and balls will be held with centre security at the centre management offices near to the Fragrance Shop and access to the equipment is free.
Ibrahim said: “When I first tried table tennis at the after school club, I really enjoyed it and found it fun.
“It’s different to other sports like football and the more I played, the more my friends said I was good at it.
“I think other children should go to Stretford Mall during half term so they can try it too.”
Stretford Mall manager, Gareth Wilkins said: “Table tennis is a fantastic way for people to get active and improve their hand-eye coordination and Ibrahim is the perfect ambassador for the sport having progressed so much in such a short space of time.
“He clearly has a passion for something he got into by accident.
“We are pleased to offer the chance for people to try it out, you never know, we might have the next champion in our midst.”
Ibrahim’s proud father, Modassar has been keeping a video blog about his son’s rapid rise to table tennis triumph.
The father-of-three said it was “fate” that unearthed Ibrahim’s hidden talent which he stumbled upon “by accident.”
“When Ibrahim told me how much he loved playing table tennis at after school club, I took him for some more sessions and he really took to it,” he said.
“We went to a club in Altrincham where Brian Kean runs sessions.
“As soon as Brian saw Ibrahim play, he said he was a natural and had good co-ordination – he was surprised to hear he’d only been playing for a few months.”
Brian agreed to have private one-to-one coaching sessions with Ibrahim and now the youngster has five trophies under his belt.
His aim is to rank in the top 50 best under 13s players in England by the end of the year.
Mr Kean said: “Ibrahim is a very quick learner, he has great technique for an 11-year-old and has the right personality and temperament for the game.
“I’m excited about Ibrahim because he puts the time in and has a high level of parental support.”
Mr Ullah added: “Discovering Ibrahim’s talent was fate really, if he’d never have gone to the after school club, we’d never have unearthed this talent. He just kind of stumbled upon it by accident really.
“I think it’s great that there are tables for youngsters to play on at Stretford Mall, hopefully it will get more people into the sport.”